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27 Mar, 2009 04:22

Sochi mayor’s race – most fun, packed ever

A ballerina, an arm-wrestler and a liberal opposition leader are among 25 candidates who have entered the race for mayor of Sochi, hoping to be at the helm of Russia's future Olympic capital.

The election is scheduled for April 26. And it’s still unclear who’ll be on the shortlist after the city’s election commission checks their paperwork.

A campaign ad for one of Sochi’s mayoral candidates looks more like an adult video. Porn star Lena Berkova claims she’s with the Party of Love and has a message of freedom, faithfulness and care.

“I am confident in my victory. Besides, basically everything about me is already known. I am open and there definitely will be no surprises,” she promises.

But as Berkova missed the deadline to submit her papers, her intention to run for mayor seems to be more like self-promotion.

Another candidate, Andrey Lugovoy, decided to withdraw from the campaign. A former security officer, he’s wanted in Britain in connection with the alleged murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko, also a former security officer who was poisoned in London three years ago.

Meanwhile, Boris Nemtsov, who’s famous for, among other things, pouring juice on his opponents on national TV, got some of his own] medicine. Witnesses say several young men attacked the opposition candidate with bottles of soda mixed with chemicals.

Like all the other candidates, Nemtsov is certain of one thing: he has a good chance of becoming mayor. Sochi is a Russian Black sea resort, famous for its mild climate and for being chosen to host the 2014 winter Olympic games – the first sporting event of its kind to be held in the subtropics.

For several candidates, transforming the Olympic project is their key idea.

Wealthy entrepreneur Aleksandr Lebedev says that the financial side of the games should be thoroughly scrutinized. But he’s not against Sochi becoming an Olympic capital. “It’s a matter of actually proving to ourselves – we have proper elections. This is the thing we are showing the world. And I thing it’s part of the Olympics. Olympics are all about democracy in sports. And this is about democracy in the political system,” he said.

Sochi’s current acting mayor, and United Russia party candidate, Anatoly Pakhomov, if elected, promises to help small businesses grow.