There's a viable and vibrant opposition movement in Russia - it just isn't the liberals
Originally appeared in The Siberian Times
Communist Sergei Levchenko won around 57% of the vote compared to 41% for interim governor Sergei Yeroshchenko, of United Russia. In the first round, the United Russia candidate had slightly failed to secure a win. In the second round, the Communists benefited from active campaigning.
Conceding defeat, deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, Sergei Neverov, said: 'These were honest, competitive elections. We accept the victory of the Communist Party candidate Sergei Levchenko and are congratulating him. Our candidate proved less convincing, in particular, we think he failed to gain support among residents of the city of Irkutsk.'
Levchenko - a member of the Russian parliament - won in the major towns of Bratsk, Angarsk, Usolye-Sibirskoye and Ust-Ilimsk as well as - with a three-to-one advantage - the gold-mining district of Bodaybo, reported TASS news agency. His campaign manager Yevgeny Rulkov said: 'We worked for this victory and we achieved it.'
Last year United Russia suffered a similar defeat to the Communists in the mayoral election in largest Siberian city, Novosibirsk, with the election of Anatoly Lokot.