MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – Election officials in Russia’s fourth-largest city on Thursday confirmed the election of a controversial anti-drug crusader and opposition leader in one of the most unexpected mayoral races in Russia’s recent history.
The Central Election Commission in Yekaterinburg said Yevgeny Roizman would become the Urals city’s mayor after getting 33.31 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election. His main rival was Yakov Silin, a Kremlin-backed regional deputy governor who got 29.71 percent of the vote, the commission said.
The 50-year-old businessman and head of a rehabilitation center for drug addicts will head the city for the next five years, the commission said. In 2003-2007, Roizman was a lawmaker in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Roizman ran as a member of billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Civil Platform party. After announcing his candidacy in July, Roizman said he decided to run because he “had no choice” because his exposure of corrupt police and officials involved with heroin-dealing had put him at odds with regional authorities.
The election campaign took an unexpected turn in late August, after prosecutors started an investigation into alleged ties between Roizman and “ethnic criminal groups.”
The investigation followed a television talk show that claimed that Roizman planned to appoint several criminal underworld figures as city officials if he became mayor of the administrative capital of the industrial and oil-rich Urals region.
Roizman has led hundreds of vigilante stings against drug pushers in Yekaterinburg since 1999 and served a term in Russia’s lower house of parliament in 2003-2007. He also runs the City Without Drugs foundation – a clinic for drug addicts that has won praise as a successful non-governmental rehabilitation center.
The foundation has also drawn criticism for purportedly using unorthodox methods, including handcuffing and underfeeding patients, forcing them to do menial jobs and keeping them for months against their will.