Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin addresses local residents during a pre-election meeting in Kostroma, Russia, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Osborn
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Six months after opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead outside the Kremlin in an unsolved contract killing, one of his closest allies is trying to take on Vladimir Putin's United Russia party in regional elections this Sunday.A veteran activist at just 32, Ilya Yashin, a prominent figure in the People's Freedom Party or PARNAS, was one of Nemtsov's closest friends and served as his campaign manager.Now, in an unlikely political contest, he is seeking to continue his slain friend's work, drawing on Nemtsov's tactics to try to gain a small foothold in the parliament of Kostroma region, some 187 miles northeast of Moscow.Sunday's elections, which will see the governors of 21 regions and over 1,300 junior officials elected along with lawmakers in 11 regional parliaments, are seen as a dry-run for nationwide parliamentary elections next year.Kremlin politicians say it is because the opposition is incompetent.PARNAS applied to contest Sunday's elections in four regions.Yashin says those charges are absurd.Yashin believes he and his party have been allowed to contest Kostroma because more than 60 percent of voters live in rural areas in an area which covers more than 23,000 square miles, making campaigning logistically difficult.The murder of Boris Nemtsov, Yashin's friend, remains unsolved.
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