Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yekaterinburg mayoral candidate Yevgeny Roizman faces legal battle

Yekaterinburg mayoral candidate Yevgeny Roizman recently found himself in a legal battle with a television host one week before nationwide elections, after calling the host a "con man and a touring prostitute."

Roizman is known for his blunt nature and emphasis on self-reliance. When met with demands from constituents that buildings be refurbished and playgrounds built, Roizman is known to respond by saying, "What, you don't have your own hands?," according to The Moscow Times.

Roizman said he views the general demands in the city to be the result of overall apathy and indifference in the Russian population, particularly among Russian men.

Recent polls show that, despite Roizman's blunt attitude, his "do-it-yourself" message is reaching the country's population. He currently leads the Yekaterinburg race as the candidate from Mikhail Prokhorov's Civil Platform party. Roizman said he is confident that he will win the election, The Moscow Times reports.

Twelve candidates are in the race to head Russia's fourth-largest city, with the main candidates including Roizman, United Russia's Yakov Silin and State Duma Deputy Alexander Burkov of A Just Russia.

Sverdlovsk prosecutors may stand in Roizman's way, however, as reports surfaced on Wednesday that an investigation will be opened into the anti-drug activist's possible involvement with criminal gangs. Recent reports allege that Roizman may be associated with Temuri Mirzoyev, a nephew of the late crime boss Aslan Usoyan, who is better known as Grandpa Hassan, according to The Moscow Times.

Roizman said the allegations are "nonsense," and that they are a result of the fact that he is leading the mayoral race.

In 1981, Roizman, who is also the author of two collections of poems, was sentenced to a two-year prison term on charges of theft and fraud. He has, however, recounted his experience as a positive one.

"I believe it would be good for anybody in Russia to spend some time in jail," Roizman said, The Moscow Times reports. "Without such an experience you can't truly understand life in Russia."

Roizman is known as a self-made man who opened the City Without Drugs program following the breakup of the Soviet Union, when the number of drug addicts in Yekaterinburg skyrocketed from a few dozen to 50,000.

His method of treatment came under fire after some of the foundation's employees were accused of kidnapping and torturing their patients, according to The Moscow Times.

Yekaterinburg is a city known for its independent and contrarian mind, which could be an advantage for Roizman. Recently, hundreds of Yekaterinburg residents showed up for a morning jog in the city center wearing Roizman-style signature red shirts, after which Roizman announced on Facebook that despite numerous threats from the local government, he would not be deterred from the race.