Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 08:02 UK

Pro-Putin mayor elected in Sochi

A voter in Sochi casts his ballot in the mayoral election
Voters cast their ballots for mayor on Sunday

A pro-government candidate has won the mayoral election in the southern Russian city of Sochi, officials say.

Acting mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, a member of PM Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, gained 77% of the vote, Election Commission chairman Yuri Rykov said.

The election in the city, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, had been seen as a test of President Dmitry Medvedev's pledge to boost democracy.

Main opposition candidate Boris Nemtsov was a distant second with less than 14%

"Pakhomov, Anatoly Nikolayevich, has won the election as head of the city of Sochi."

We are preparing lawsuits about the facts of mass falsifications during these elections
Boris Nemtsov

"According to preliminary counting he has got 77% of the votes," Mr Rykov announced after more than 80% of the ballots had been counted in Sunday's election.

Sochi's new leader will play a key role in overseeing the 2014 Winter Olympics - the first Winter Games to be hosted in Russia.

Mr Putin had pushed hard to make the Sochi bid successful.

Fraud accusations

The city will receive billions of dollars for construction projects to turn it into an Olympic city.

Mr Nemtsov had accused the authorities of denying him coverage in the media, and of pressuring vulnerable state workers to vote for Mr Pakhomov.

"We are preparing lawsuits about the facts of mass falsifications during these elections, demanding the annulment of the results of the elections, because they were not actually elections but a massive fraud," Mr Nemtsov said.

"We will forward these claims to the Sochi court in the nearest future, and then to the higher legal authorities."

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