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St. Petersburg Re-Elects Governor Beglov After Controversial Campaign

Alexander Beglov

Alexander Beglov has been confirmed the winner of Sunday’s gubernatorial vote in St. Petersburg following a controversial campaign.

Russians voted in local and regional elections nationwide Sunday, including in gubernatorial elections in 16 regions. Critics said St. Petersburg’s gubernatorial race suffered from a lack of real competition against Beglov, a Kremlin ally who has been the city’s acting governor since October 2018.

Beglov received 64.43% of the vote, a result that has been approved by 13 out of the 14 votes in the St. Petersburg electoral commission, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Fair Russia candidate Nadezhda Tikhonova won the second-most number of votes, followed by Civil Platform candidate Mikhail Amosov in third place. The Vedomosti business daily reported that voter turnout in St. Petersburg was less than 25%.

Beglov’s strongest rival, the popular movie director Vladimir Bortko, quit the race a week before the vote. 

“I came to play football but was told I had to play cards with a marked deck that had five aces in it,” Bortko said of his decision.

On election day, St. Petersburg’s elections had been marred by multiple claims of fraud, including ballot-stuffing and a multiple voting tactic known as “carousel.” 

Beglov, a senior member of United Russia, was one of many candidates who had sought to distance themselves from the increasingly unpopular ruling party on Sunday by running as independents.

President Vladimir Putin had appointed Beglov to replace then-St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko amid simmering public anger against United Russia over an unpopular pension age law.

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