Prokhorov Backs Mayoral Candidate in Litmus Test Election

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov campaigned Tuesday for his Civil Platform party's mayoral candidate in a litmus test election in the Moscow region town of Zhukovsky, where opposition sentiment runs high.

The outcome of Sunday's vote, the first mayoral election in the region under acting Governor Andrei Vorobyov, a senior United Russia official appointed in November, is expected to determine popular support for the governor ahead of the gubernatorial election in the fall.

Opposition sentiment in Zhukovsky, 25 kilometers southeast of Moscow and known for its biennial MAKS airshow, is relatively high due to public aversion to the construction of a highway through local forestland. The town's previous mayor, Alexander Bobovnikov, resigned in January, citing a lack of popular support.

Prokhorov's candidate, Igor Novikov, head of the NVK-Invest financing company, is also supported by Gennady Gudkov, who was once one of the State Duma's most renowned opposition lawmakers but was ousted in September in what many thought was punishment for his participation in the protest movement.

Besides Novikov, three other candidates stand equal chances of being elected Sunday: Andrei Voytyuk, who is officially supported by the Moscow region government; A Just Russia's Sergei Knyshov; and Communist Alexander Anikanov, the Regnum news agency reported.

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