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Anti-Putin Opposition Backs Highway Activist for Khimki Mayor

Russian opposition figures voiced support for Yevgeniya Chirikova, an environmental activist who led protests against a state-backed highway through the Moscow region town of Khimki, where she plans to run for mayor.

Billionaire newspaper owner Alexander Lebedev, opposition leader Alexey Navalny and celebrity Ksenia Sobchak all backed Chirikova’s candidacy at the Oct. 14 election. She needs to gather 1,000 signatures to be eligible to run, according to a statement on the Moscow regional government’s website.

Chirikova is in talks with the opposition Yabloko party and called the vote a chance to present “a concept for the development of the region and then the country,” according to posts today and yesterday on her Twitter Inc. account.

The Khimki mayoral contest is one of several regional and municipal elections set for autumn and the town borders Moscow, where tens of thousands took to the streets this year to challenge President Vladimir Putin’s rule. While Chirikova helped suspend the Khimki branch of the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway project, which environmentalists said would irreparably damage a local forest, construction later resumed.

Vladimir Strelchenko, mayor of the town of 200,000, resigned last week. Oleg Shakhov, a former Transport Ministry official who worked on the highway and later headed the company that designed the project, was appointed as his replaced him on an acting basis. He may run for mayor, according to a Moscow regional government statement.

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