A local election making the front pages

Baltiysk, formerly Pillau, is Russia’s westernmost town and home to a naval base, a seaport and an oil terminal. Together with much smaller towns and villages, it makes up a district (rayon) with 36,000 residents. The district held a local election last weekend. The ruling party, United Russia, failed to win a single council seat out of 15.

Initially, a total of 142 candidates sought to run – unusual competition for a local election – but 78 were disqualified by the electoral commission. Some say that residents were enraged by the arbitrary disqualifications and voted against the dominant party in protest. Others say it was the Kaliningrad regional governor who lost the district to a local rival, an amber dealer currently detained in Poland.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to hear the news.

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