The Russian opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, on Thursday submitted to a court more than 50,000 pages of documents illustrating what he said were irregularities in Sunday’s voting in the Moscow mayor’s race in an attempt to prove that he won enough votes to force a runoff against the incumbent, Sergei S. Sobyanin. But the court refused to block the inauguration of Mr. Sobyanin, who barely cleared the threshold for an outright victory with 51.4 percent. He was sworn in on Thursday evening during a ceremony in the city’s World War II museum. According to the official returns, Mr. Navalny placed second with 27.2 percent. Yet, even as Mr. Navalny and his aides lugged 21 boxes of documents to the courthouse, they acknowledged not only that there was little hope of overturning the results, but also that the voting had been relatively fair. So they have adopted a new message: while the vote was generally free of blatant fraud like ballot stuffing, the election itself was rigged from the beginning.
“Our position is that these were unfair elections,” Mr. Navalny’s campaign manager, Leonid Volkov, said in an interview. “We were under pressure. They hampered us and our contractors, cut down our banners, broke our cars, stole our newspaper, didn’t let us work. They pressured us with administrative resources, were constantly on television, gave out groceries.”
The Navalny camp says that Mr. Sobyanin’s supporters gave free packages of sausages and corn to sway votes, and submitted false requests for home balloting by elderly or incapacitated people who had no intention of voting at home and whose votes, largely for Mr. Sobyanin, might have been cast by someone else.
“All this allows us to say that these elections were not honest,” Mr. Volkov said. “These elections were competitive in the sense that at least we could participate in them. And the vote count, by Russian standards, was good. The very fact of a fair vote count doesn’t make the election fair. Elections are made up of many components, and the vote count is only one part of it.”
Golos, the nonprofit group that is Russia’s only independent election monitoring organization, offered a similar assessment, saying that there was no repeat of the blatant fraud that occurred during the December 2011 parliamentary elections.