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    Opposition Candidate: 13 Charges Against Me

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    An opposition mayoral candidate who was on hunger strike for 40 days to protest alleged ballot fraud has said the authorities brought 13 administrative charges against him.

    An opposition mayoral candidate who was on hunger strike for 40 days to protest alleged ballot fraud has said the authorities brought 13 administrative charges against him.

    In a blog posting on Wednesday, Oleg Shein said the charges concerned demonstrations held in his support earlier this month in the southern port city of Astrakhan, which the authorities say were unsanctioned.

    "There's been a first ruling already, it's a 1,500 ruble ($51) fine," Shein wrote on his LiveJournal blog. "I see nothing catastrophic in this."

    Shein, who belongs to the leftist A just Russia party, had been fasting since mid-March.

    He ended his hunger strike on Tuesday after achieving what he described as his "strategic goal."

    Shein says the rigged tally cost him victory at the March 4 election, in which a pro-Kremlin candidate was declared the winner.

    An Astrakhan court is due to begin a hearing into Shein's complaints later this week.

    Vladimir Churov, Russia's chief electoral official, has admitted there were "procedural irregularities" at 128 of Astrakhan's 202 polling stations.

    Churov spent the night last week examining webcam footage of alleged fraud with Shein, but said he saw no grounds for reviewing the Astrakhan result.

    Shein's hunger strike followed this winter's mass rallies against newly elected President Vladimir Putin. Some Kremlin opponents see regional politics as a new venue for successful anti-government protest.

     

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