At Solovki, another election scandal

The beautiful Solovki archipelago has a troublesome political situation. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Regional authorities disliked the candidates and therefore orchestrated the abortion of local mayoral elections, an analyst says. The scandal is not the first at the unique and highly popular archipelago in the White Sea.


The elections due 13 May were cancelled because several members of the local election commission resigned, reportedly because they were “forced to do so”, Regnum reports. Four out of six members left the commission, making it unauthorized to organize the vote.

The same situation appeared at the local polling station, where three of five commission members resigned.

Political analyst Andrei Churakov told Regnum that the Solovki case clearly is a story about ”technological sabotage and brute violation of legislation”. He indicates that regional authorities have engaged in the elections in order to prevent unwanted candidates from coming to power.

The two candidates who were ready to fight for the mayoral post were Arkady Pavlov and Aleksey Yefipov, both of them reportedly people with sympathies for the Liberal Democratic Party. Another two candidates were disallowed to run because they failed to collect the required number of signatures, reports.

The election scandal is not the first in Solovki, the picturesque archipelago in the White Sea. In December 2010, the local election commission declared the completed mayoral election invalid because of alleged voting irregularities. Preliminary results, which had been made public on the election day, showed that Aleksei Yefinov had got 130 votes ahead of United Russia’s candidate Nataliya Yakovleva (124 votes). The local electorate includes about 600 people.

The decision infuriorated leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He believed that the elections were being manipulated by regional authorities. “At Solovki, it is all about corruption. Billions are being spent on the local housing sector and on on the construction of the museums, Zhirinovsky told newspaper Business Class.

Solovki plays a special role not only in Arkhangelsk Oblast, but also in all of Russia, and significant sums of federal money are being invested in the islands’ unique historic sites.

The important role of Solovki in Arkhangelsk politics can be illustrated by the recent appointment of Roman Balashov as deputy governor exclusively responsible for the development of the archipelago. Balashov is the by far longest serving member of the Arkhangelsk regional administration. He was appointed deputy governor already in 2005 and in the administration of Ilya Mikhalchuk served as Chief of Staff.