A day after a protest in the capital, legislators in the Sverdlovsk regional parliament adopted a third and final reading of a law that abolishes the direct election of Yekaterinburg's mayor. Proposed by Governor Evgeny Kuivashev, the legislation won the support of 42 deputies, with just four deputies opposing the law.
Instead of the popular vote, Yekaterinburg’s mayor will now be selected by city deputies from a list of candidates determined by a “competition committee.” There were also plans to vote on legislation that would have preserved Yekaterinburg’s mayoral elections, but the author of the bill withdrew it shortly before Tuesday’s vote.
The abolition of mayoral elections in Yekaterinburg effectively marks the end of Evgeny Roizman’s future in government. Perhaps the only independent mayor in the country, Roizman took office in September 2013 and was due to run for re-election this September. For years, he has been at odds with Governor Kuivashev, both politically and personally. Roizman addressed the regional parliament before it voted to end his city’s mayoral elections.
In his remarks, he argued that Yekaterinburg’s mayor has already lost most of his administrative powers to the appointed “city manager” position, and said the ostensible justification for abolishing elections (to save the government 150 million rubles, or $2.6 million, in election costs once every five years) is a lousy reason to deprive the public of its “only chance to participate in the city’s political life.” Roizman says he doesn’t plan to try to seek re-election through the new undemocratic system.