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Former Gubernatorial Candidate in Russia's Far East Jailed on Fraud Charges

Andrei Ishchenko. Anton Balashov / TASS

A former candidate for governor who nearly unseated a Kremlin-backed incumbent in Russia's Far East has been sentenced to six years in jail, Russian media reported Monday.

Andrei Ishchenko ran in 2018 as a Communist Party challenger for the governor’s post in the Primorye region, where election authorities annulled results after reports of vote-rigging, a rare admission for Russia of ballot interference.

Ishchenko had been leading in the polls with 95% of the ballots counted before the election was scrapped for a re-run.

The Communist Party ended up not nominating him in the new round of voting, allowing a Putin-appointed incumbent from the United Russia party, Oleg Kozhemyako, to secure the governor’s seat.

The Pervomaiskiy District Court in Vladivostok, Primorye region’s capital, found Ishchenko guilty of defrauding investors by 387 million rubles ($3.8 million) as CEO of the construction company Avrora-Stroy, according to the Kommersant business daily.

In addition to the six-year prison sentence, the court fined Ishchenko 400,000 rubles ($4,000). Prosecutors had sought a seven-year prison sentence and a 500,000-ruble ($5,000) fine for the former politician.

Ishchenko, who was detained in April 2022, pleaded guilty to the charges last month.

Last fall, Ishchenko asked to be sent to the frontline to fight in Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, but his request was denied.

A second trial in which Ishchenko is accused of abusing his powers as the CEO of Avrora-Stroy is scheduled for Sept. 19, Kommersant reported.

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