Gaydamak launches mayoral bid

October 10, 2008

Russian-born billionaire Arkady Gaydamak officially entered the race to become Jerusalem mayor on Monday.

On the same day in Paris, Mr Gaydamak went on trial in absentia as one of 42 people charged with illegal arms trafficking to Angola between 1993 and 2000. Mr Gaydamak's lawyers insist that their client is innocent.

The high-profile trial is unlikely to damage Mr Gaydamak's image in the Jerusalem municipal campaign. However, he will be hurt by the collapse of his Israeli business empire last month and the poor start to the season by his club Betar Jerusalem.

Yigal Amedi, number two on Mr Gaydamak's Social Justice party list, dismissed a recent poll which gave Gaydamak eight per cent of the vote for mayor, behind frontrunner Nir Barkat and Charedi candidate Meir Porush.

"We have conducted polls which show Arkady winning 25 per cent," he said, "even before we have started our campaign. We can go on to victory."

Last updated: 12:09pm, October 8 2008