Date: 6 April 2018
Yekaterinburg: Destroy the Opposition
Immediately after his recent re-election, Vladimir Putin has decided to intensify the war with the opposition. As for the latter, it has been scattered and weak and it has some importance only at local level. Such is the case of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, whose mayor openly criticises the Kremlin and expresses support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Putin regime has long tried to get rid of Roizman; nonetheless, its efforts were in vain. Instead, local authorities decided to change the way the city’s mayor is chosen, even despite many protests raised by the city’s inhabitants. The regime will do everything to deprive the last few independent politicians of their influence.
The Council of the Sverdlovsk Oblast abolished the direct election of the mayor of Yekaterinburg, the region’s capital. On April 3, local lawmakers voted by 42-4 to adopt a law, according to which the mayor of Yekaterinburg will be chosen by the city council from a shortlist drawn up by a special commission. The incumbent, Yevgeny Roizman, is now the chairman of the City Council of Yekaterinburg since he was deprived of the title of mayor by city councillors in 2015; such a change seemed to prove the conflict between Roizman, who has expressed his support for opposition, and the city council, dominated by the ruling United Russia party, as well as the Kremlin-supported governor of the Sverdlovsk region.
In 2013, Roizman was elected for a five-year term by the residents of Yekaterinburg. The politician is one of a few regional and local high-ranking officials who have been fiercely critical of the Kremlin and who have expressed support for opposition’s Alexei Navalny. Moreover, the mayor’s competences have been recently reduced so the city’s head plays rather a ceremonial role. In fact, most of the real power is exercised by the head of the city administration Alexander Yakob. The Putin’s regime has already made some attempt to destroy Roizman’s political career. For example, he dropped out of the parliamentary elections as well as the Sverdlovsk region’s gubernatorial race (READ MORE). The regime wanted him to resign, by getting him involved in some criminal issues. Such efforts also appeared to be unsuccessful. So it was decided to get rid of him in a different way. Roizman, who was popular among the city’s inhabitants, would have probably won the mayoral elections so local lawmakers scrapped direct election. Such an idea was launched right after the presidential election. The bill was introduced to the local Duma on March 22. It was then submitted by regional governor Yevgeny Kuvaishev (and not any other local activities of the ruling party), which constitutes a blatant signal that the decision was directly made by the Kremlin.
Roizman has already condemned the act, indicating that it will be used by the Kremlin’s loyal authorities of the Kremlin to appoint a mayor that would be obedient to the Putin’s regime. On April 2, several thousand people have rallied against the change. Nevertheless, it did not change the situation. The law was changed the next; moreover, it seems that Roizman may have much more serious problems. Former deputy of the city council Oleg Kiniev, who has been serving 16 years in prison for murdering an elderly woman, filed some new testimonies that burden current mayor of Yekaterinburg and bind him to the murder four years ago. According to Roizman, Kiniev could have charged him under the influence of threats. Interestingly, information about the above-mentioned testimonies has appeared in the middle of a political battle about the new system of choosing the mayor.
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