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  Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Russia's Liberal Democrat Party said Tuesday it would not nominate
Russia's Liberal Democrat Party said Tuesday it would not nominate the main suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko murder case, Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi, as candidate for mayor in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"The party has made a decision to give up the candidacy of Andrei Lugovoi. To our mind, it is better to nominate the head of the party's Krasnodar regional branch, Alexei Kolesnikov, for this post," said Igor Lebedev, the leader of the ultranationalist LDPR faction in the Russian parliament.

Lebedev said the party's decision was based on polls conducted by the LDPR and the desire of Sochi residents to elect a native of the Black Sea resort.

"Besides, after Andrei Konstantinovich [Lugovoi] joined the party, its rating has risen strongly and we would not like to lose such a strong MP," Lebedev said.

The Sochi election is scheduled for April 26. The city will host the 2014 Winter Olympics and the next mayor is likely to play a major role in the development of the city for the showpiece international event, with the Russian government due to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and facilities.

Lugovoi said that it was important for him to remain an MP to help the Russian Far East regions he oversees in the party overcome the global financial crisis.

British investigators accused agent-turned-businessman Lugovoi of murdering former Russian security officer Litvinenko, who died of radioactive poisoning in London on November 23, 2006. Britain demanded his extradition, sparking a major diplomatic row.

Moscow has refused to hand over Lugovoi, who has repeatedly denied involvement in the murder, citing lack of evidence and the Russian constitution, which does not allow extradition of Russian citizens to other countries.

Lugovoi, 42, was elected to parliament from the LDPR in 2007. Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky named Lugovoi as number two on the party list two months before the parliamentary elections.

In November last year, the supreme council of the LDPR appointed Lugovoi as the party's supervisor in Russia's Far Eastern Primorye Territory, the Kamchatka Territory and the Irkutsk Region.

The LDPR is the third largest party in the State Duma after United Russia and the Communist Party.

Other candidates for Sochi mayor include former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, local businessman Pavel Yemelyanenko, retired military officer Sergei Bernasovsky, and the head of the St. Petersburg-based Airlen airline Nikolai Kuznetsov.


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