In a rare setback for the ruling establishment, an incumbent governor was removed on Friday from elections in southern Russia over faulty signatures in his support.
A court in Bryansk Region banned Nikolai Denin, a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, from running for reelection on a complaint from his Communist rival, Vadim Potomsky.
Denin was accused of falsifying some of the 253 signatures from district legislators across the region that he was required to obtain in order to run for office, and of abusing his office in order to pressure other legislators to back his bid.
Denin, 54, who has held the job since 2004, denied wrongdoing, while his party pledged to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. The Central Election Commission said it opposed the regional court’s decision to kick Denin off the race.
A number of regional elections are set to take place across Russia on Oct. 14, including gubernatorial votes in five regions, the first after an eight-year-long break during which regional leaders were appointed by the Kremlin, which reintroduced direct gubernatorial elections earlier this year after a wave of public protests.
Bryansk and Ryazan Regions are two provinces where United Russia runs a serious risk of losing the gubernatorial elections, Kommersant said on Thursday.