Oleg Kozhemyako, acting governor of the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai stands as he waits to get his ballot at a polling station in Vladivostok, Russia, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. Russians living in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai cast their votes Sunday for a new governor in a tightly watched election, with Kozhemyako reported to be leading the vote. (Igor Novikov, Governor and Administration of Primorye Territory press service via AP)

Kremlin candidate wins Far East governorship in repeat vote

December 16, 2018 - 12:40 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — Russians living in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai elected a Kremlin-backed candidate for governor Sunday after the results from a previous election were thrown out due to alleged voting fraud.

Local election officials said the acting governor of the region, Oleg Kozhemyako, won 61.8 percent of the votes after more than 99 percent of the ballots had been counted in the Russian region on the Sea of Japan.

The election commission said Andrei Andreichenko of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party came in second with 25.2 percent of the vote.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called Kozhemyako to congratulate him on the victory.

President Vladimir Putin tapped Kozhemyako to stand in as governor of Primorsky Krai and run in the election in place of the former acting governor, Andrei Tarasenko.

Tarasenko, who represented the ruling United Russia party during a gubernatorial election in September, appeared ready to lose the election to a Communist challenger who had received 98 percent of the vote after nearly half of the ballots were counted. But by the time 99 percent of ballots were tallied, officials declared that Tarasenko had come back to win the election by over 7,500 votes.

In the face of growing outrage over suspected voting fraud, the Russian Central Election Commission quickly moved to annul the results, claiming they were impossible to verify as both sides accused the other of improprieties.

Tarasenko was not among the four candidates who competed in Sunday's vote.

Andrei Ishchenko, the Communist candidate in the September vote election, did not run again, either. His party boycotted Sunday's election and he failed to gather the required signatures for an independent bid for governor.

The election commission reported a 39.6 percent voter turnout for Sunday's election, up from 29.2 percent in September.

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