On Tuesday, April 3, the Yekaterinburg regional legislature voted to abolish direct mayoral elections in the city of Yekaterinburg. Under the new bill, the city’s mayor will be chosen by the city council from a list of candidates prepared by a commission. The law was passed despite demonstrations by Yekaterinburg residents on Monday, April 2. Further protests against the law are possible in the coming days.
Around 2000 people gathered in Yekaterinburg on April 2, calling for lawmakers to not adopt the new bill. However, the bill passed with a 42-4 vote. Opposition leaders claim that abolishing direct elections will allow the central government to appoint a “puppet” mayor who is unaccountable to the people. Current mayor Yevgeny Roizman, who is an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and supporter of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, also opposed the decision. Roizman’s was elected in 2013 and his five-year term ends in September 2018.
Individuals in Yekaterinburg are advised to avoid all protests as a precaution.