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Kremlin foe Navalny denounces Moscow vote

Photo: AFP

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny (pictured) called for mass protests on Monday after failing to gain enough votes in the Moscow mayoral poll to challenge incumbent Sergei Sobyanin to a run-off. Navalny said the results were “deliberately falsified”.


Incumbent Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin narrowly escaped a run-off with feisty Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Monday as an almost complete vote count awarded him over 51% of the vote in the Russian capital.

With 27.2% of the vote, Navalny garnered more than double he was expected to, but failed to make a large enough dent in Sobyanin’s share, which reached 51.32% in a count based on 99.6% of polling stations

Navalny was quick to denounce “many serious violations” following the vote and called on his supporters to stage mass street protests on Monday.

“We don't recognise these results and we demand a second round, which the people of Moscow voted for,” he told reporters on Monday. “If the mayor and the Kremlin ignore the demands of the people we will call everyone on to the streets tomorrow.”

In a blog post (in English) published just hours after the results emerged, Navalny began compiling what he said was evidence of election fraud. He also posted images of ballot slips and CCTV images purporting to prove his claims on Twitter.

Unlike his United Russia rivals, Navalny is both social media savvy and English-friendly, winning him support both at home and abroad.

The outspoken firebrand – who once described Putin’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves” – has proved to be an increasingly pricklier thorn in the Kremlin’s side in recent years as he has risen up the ranks of the opposition.

In July Navalny was convicted of embezzlement – a charge which his supporters dismiss as a government-concocted fabrication – and sentenced to jail, but he was released soon after. He still faces a five-year prison sentence.

United Russia candidates won most of the 7,000 regional and local contests on Sunday, but there was some sign of resistance in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, where anti-narcotics campaigner and opposition candidate Yevgeny Roizman narrowly defeated the ruling party favourite, United Russia rival Yakov Silin, with 30% to 26%.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

In August, he said that TV networks refused to carry his election campaign, and tasked his supporters with hanging banners around the city. But the authorities soon set about having them removed. One FRANCE 24 Observer said that police arrived at his home and forced him to remove a Navalny poster hung from his window.

Navalny’s most recent allegations could provoke a fresh bout of unrest in the capital, two years after the capital was gripped by another anti-election fraud street movement partly led by Navalny. The massive protests, in response to alleged election fraud during the December parliamentary election, were unprecedented in size. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, but were met with a violent crackdown, during which Navalny himself was arrested and jailed for two weeks.

The unrest rattled Vladimir Putin, who was then prime minister, but failed to shake his grip on power. In spring 2012 he was re-elected president.


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