Yabloko to support Yevgenia Chirikova in Khimki mayoral elections

The liberal Yabloko party has agreed to support Defend the Khimki Forest group leader Yevgenia Chirikova as a candidate in Khimki's mayoral election on October 14. "We will support Chirikova's candidacy in the Khimki elections," Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin said at a press conference at the Interfax central office on Thursday. It is the party's final decision, he said.

"We have already adopted such a decision. It is final. The Yabloko party will not nominate any other candidates. Chirikova will not have any rival within the party at these elections," he added.

Yabloko initially planned to support mayoral candidate Igor Belousov, but he subsequently pulled out of the race in favor of Chirikova, Mitrokhin said. "From the very beginning, we wanted the opposition to rally around one candidate in the elections in Khimki," Mitrokhin said.

Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko resigned on August 15 and the Tula region's First Deputy Governor Oleg Shakhov was appointed as the acting mayor. The Khimki municipal legislature accepted Strelchenko's resignation on August 17 and set a mayoral election for October 14.

Upon hearing the news of Strelchenko's resignation, Chirikova denied plans to run for Khimki's mayor, but then changed her mind at supporters' request. "I was asked by a huge number of people, and I just could not say no to them. That is why I will submit my documents to the election commission as soon as I am allowed to do so," Chirikova told Interfax.

Chirikova says Acting Khimki Mayor Oleg Shakhov is her main rival in the upcoming mayoral election. "Mr. Shakhov will be my main rival in this election," she told a press conference at Interfax. "That is the Shakhov man who became the client of the project [the construction of a motorway through the Khimki Forest] while working at the Russian Highways state company and then suddenly transformed into the project executor," she added. "He is the ideologist of the Khimki highway. I have known him for a long time," Chirikova said.

She said Shakhov would be her main ideological adversary in the mayoral election. "He is a representative of the system of resource parasites all of us are fighting," she said.

Meanwhile, Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin said that problems may occur in the registration of Yevgenia Chirikova as the united opposition candidate in the Khimki mayoral election. "Most probably, they will allege non-existent violations in the collection of signatures. They have always done that, including in the case of Yabloko signature lists in the Khimki ballot," he told a press conference at Interfax. "The question of registration is so serious that we must do the utmost to promote the common candidate," he said.

"The barrier will be extremely difficult to pass; attempts will be made to bar an opposition candidate at the registration stage, especially Yevgenia Chirikova - the most prominent of all candidates who catches public attention," Mitrokhin said.

Chirikova told the press conference her registration appeal documentation would be submitted to the town administration next Monday. "We will do that at 11:30 a.m. We will meet by the Eternal Flame and walk through old Khimki to the building of the [town] administration where registration appeals must be submitted," she said.

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