The vote reflects the exasperation of ordinary Russians, says TIME Moscow correspondent Yuri Zarakhovich. "People find no security from legitimate authority, so they seek it from mafia dons -- after all, mafia dons pay their debts and their salaries; public officials don't. The people see this hoodlum as a Robin Hood."
The Pustule's election might not be so embarrassing for Boris Yeltsin's government if it hadn't happened in Nizhni Novgorod. Moscow has long proclaimed the city a showcase of Russia's reform program.