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  2. The authorities' nominee for Tomsk mayor declined to run in the election, citing a lack of competition.

The authorities' nominee for Tomsk mayor declined to run in the election, citing a lack of competition.

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After the abolition of direct voting, the Tomsk City Duma failed to nominate a mayor on April 11. Maksim Luchshev, a candidate from the Communist Party,  withdrew his candidacy one day before the election. On election day, the acting mayor, Mikhail Ratner, declined to participate in what he called a "non-alternative" contest. His statement was published on a local Telegram channel.

Following the elimination of direct mayoral elections, the Tomsk City Duma failed to appoint a new mayor. The Communist Party candidate, Maksim Luchshev, and the acting mayor, Mikhail Ratner, were slated to run in the election. However, on April 10, Ratner withdrew from the race, and his decision was supported by Governor Vladimir Mazur who represents the United Russia party. On election day, Luchshev also withdrew his candidacy.

"I would not have entered this contest if I did not genuinely believe that I could make a positive impact on the people of Tomsk. Over the past 2.5 years, my team and I have worked hard to stabilize the situation, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and sanctions. <…> However, I believe that being a mayor should not come at any cost. It is a matter of principle for me to uphold what is right and proper. In this non-alternative situation, I do not believe that becoming mayor is the right decision for Tomsk. I believe the mayor should be elected on an alternative basis," Ratner stated.

In December 2022, the Tomsk City Duma voted to abolish direct mayoral elections and instead opted to choose a mayor from a list of candidates approved by a competition committee. However, as United Russia did not have a majority in the City Duma, an appointment could not be made.

Direct mayoral elections continue in only five Russian cities, including Abakan, Anadyr, Khabarovsk, Yakutsk, and Ulan-Ude. In February 2023, the election of the head of Novosibirsk was canceled, prompting residents to protest and demand a referendum on the reinstatement of direct voting.


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