Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny delivered an unexpectedly strong showing in Moscow’s mayoral elections, but still vowed to challenge the preliminary official results, which gave a majority to incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. Mr. Navalny said he didn’t expect to win himself, but was confident that his Kremlin-backed opponent had fallen short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. The final official count, with 100% of precincts in Moscow reporting had Mr. Sobyanin winning 51.37% with just under 1.2 million votes and Mr. Navalny 27.24% with 632,697 votes; the rest was split among four other candidates, according to the Moscow City Election Commission. The tension over the election raises the prospect of a repeat of the massive demonstrations against the Kremlin that were spurred by widespread allegations of falsification of votes in the Dec. 2011 parliamentary ballot. Mr. Navalny’s supporters received a permit to hold a rally Monday evening at one site of those protests. It wasn’t clear how large turnout was likely to be; recent opposition protests have been thinly attended.
Sunday’s race was a test both of the authorities’ promises of greater political competition and of the appeal of the opposition’s grass-roots campaign in its stronghold in the capital. The Moscow vote was one of dozens of regional polls held across the country, with early returns in a few major cities showing strong results for rivals to the ruling party. In most, however, pro-Kremlin candidates dominated.
“What we are seeing is obvious falsification organized by City Hall,” Mr. Navalny told reporters and supporters outside his campaign headquarters around 2 a.m. “We demand a second round,” he said, noting that falsifications alleged by his campaign were large enough to push Mr. Sobyanin’s total to over 50% of the vote. Mr. Navalny vowed to call on supporters to take to the streets in protest if election officials failed to call a runoff.
Full Article: Mayor’s Rival Contests Moscow Vote – WSJ.com.