Russia: Moscow court confirms election defeat for Navalny | Associated Press

A Moscow courthouse on Friday upheld the results of mayoral elections in which the Kremlin-backed incumbent narrowly avoided a run-off with opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Russian news outlets reported. The judge rejected Navalny’s claims that the campaign was marked by abuse of government finances and selected voter fraud, ruling that there were no grounds for a recount. Navalny’s success in the elections proved an embarrassment to his Kremlin-backed opponent, incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. Sobyanin got 51 percent of the vote, just avoiding the 50 percent cut-off that would have forced him into a second round against Navalny. Independent election monitor Golos also criticized the election result, saying that there had been no evidence of widespread vote-rigging but that isolated violations could have tipped the close election. Also Friday, another court that Navalny’s appeals trial will begin on Oct. 9. Navalny was sentenced in July to five years in prison for embezzlement in a case that he and his supporters describe as legally dubious and a punishment for his exposure of high-level corruption.

Russia: Putin foe Navalny to challenge Moscow election defeat in court | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, Alexei Navalny, said on Wednesday he would file hundreds of legal challenges to Moscow mayoral election results he says were rigged to give a Kremlin ally victory. Sergei Sobyanin, who was appointed mayor by the Kremlin in 2010 but called an early election to increase his legitimacy, won the vote on Sunday with 51.3 percent – enough to avoid a second-round run-off against Navalny, who had 27.3 percent. Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who helped lead street protests against Putin in the past two years, has refused to accept the results and has cited election observers whose count put Sobyanin below the 50 percent threshold. “Everybody’s asking: Where are the lawsuits? If you’re unhappy with the results and believe there was fraud, why aren’t you complaining?” Navalny wrote on his blog. “I answer: We are preparing well-grounded legal complaints. It takes time.”

Russia: Navalny demands recount in Moscow mayoral race | Associated Press

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny demanded a recount Monday in Moscow’s mayoral election after official results showed that the Kremlin-backed incumbent barely escaped facing him in a runoff. Russia’s most respected monitoring group also questioned the accuracy of the vote. The Moscow Election Commission said Monday that former Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin won just over 51 percent of the vote while Navalny garnered 27 percent in second place, a strong result for a Russian opposition leader. If Sobyanin, 55, had won less than 50 percent, he would have faced a runoff with the charismatic 37-year-old Navalny, who has risen to wide prominence in the past few years with his anti-corruption campaign. “We do not recognize these elections,” Navalny told reporters. “Sobyanin can’t consider himself the mayor of all Muscovites, he can’t consider himself a lawfully elected mayor unless he agrees to our demands and allows a recount of the vote.”

Russia: Mayor’s Rival Contests Moscow Vote | Wall Street Journal

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.

Russia: Putin critic set to capture protest vote in Moscow polls | AFP

As Muscovites prepared Saturday to elect a mayor for the first time in a decade, many said they would support a controversial critic of Vladimir Putin who channels public anger against the Kremlin. On Sunday, they will have to choose from six candidates including Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin and the main opposition candidate Alexei Navalny, who has campaigned under the shadow of a five-year sentence on charges he condemned as politically motivated. The candidacy of the 37-year-old anti-corruption blogger has made the race the first genuinely competitive Russian election since the heady first post-Soviet years, even if many harbour reservations about his tough anti-migrant rhetoric. Kremlin-backed Sobyanin, 55, is expected to win with a majority, while Navalny is set to come second with around 20 percent, according to opinion polls.

Russia: Elections to Elect Governors, Moscow Mayor After 9-year Break in Popular Votes | RIA Novosti

Millions of Russians will take to the polling booths on Sunday to cast their votes in regional and municipal elections. The most important race is happening in Moscow, where Acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin faces off against Russia’s protest leader Alexei Navalny. Sobyanin, an ally and former administration head of President Vladimir Putin, is uniformly expected to win the mayoral seat by a wide margin. Turnout for Navalny, though, will determine to what extent Moscow residents oppose the Kremlin and its policies, political pundits said. “A sizeable part of the vote against Sobyanin will be against not the Moscow city government or the personality of the Moscow mayor, but against federal politics,” said Boris Makarenko, chairman of the Center for Political Technologies. “The Kremlin is receiving many signals that a sizeable part of the population has problems with how it is governing the county.” Authorities worked intentionally to keep Navalny in the race, in what analysts say was an effort to boost the legitimacy of the crucial vote after tens of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest the 2011 parliamentary and 2012 presidential elections results. The opposition claimed the contests were rigged in favor of the Kremlin.

Russia: Moscow to consider disqualifying Navalny from mayor poll | GlobalPost

The Moscow election commission is to consider whether to disqualify protest leader Alexei Navalny from taking part in elections for city mayor on September 8, the Russian capital’s election chief said Thursday. The commission would meet “soon” to discuss violations in Navalny’s campaign, Moscow election commission chief Valentin Gorbunov said. “If the violations exceed the norms established by the law than the question will be raised of cancelling the registration of the candidate,” Gorbunov said, according to comments confirmed by a spokesman to AFP. The spokesman, declining to be identified, refused further details.

Russia: Protest leader wins one battle and faces another | Reuters

Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny won a rare victory on Wednesday by being accepted as a candidate in a Moscow mayoral election which he sees as a stepping stone to challenging Vladimir Putin for the presidency. But his ability to contest September’s election and the next presidential vote in 2018 depend on a judge’s verdict on Thursday in the most prominent trial of an opposition figure in Russia since Soviet times. Navalny, who emerged from anti-Putin protests last year as the opposition’s most dynamic leader, could be sentenced to up to six years in jail on what he says are trumped-up charges of stealing 16 million roubles ($493,000) from a timber firm. That would bar him from running for mayor against Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin favorite, and from contesting the presidential election in 2018, in which Putin, Russia’s dominant leader for 13 years, could try to extend his rule until 2024.

Russia: Moscow mayoral election to decide opposition’s fate | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Early elections for mayor of Russia’s capital will be held on Sept. 8. This will be the opposition’s zero-hour: The key electorate for opponents of the regime is represented most widely in Moscow. If the opposition does not win on its own turf, the protest movement may be forgotten for a long time to come. Last year’s elections in the Moscow suburb of Khimki were seen by many as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming battle for Moscow. Consequently, the voting there was closely followed by all of Russia’s political observers—as was the opposition’s defeat. Yet protest leaders have been offered the chance to take their revenge far sooner than they expected: The next mayoral elections in Moscow were scheduled to take place only in 2015. The opposition’s plans have been thrown into disarray by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s sudden resignation.

Russia: Moscow Mayor Wants to Abolish Absentee Ballots | The Moscow Times

Acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has submitted a bill to the Moscow City Duma that would abolish the use of absentee ballots in city elections, but he said the proposed change would not be implemented before the upcoming mayoral election, a news report said Tuesday. Election observers say the widespread use of absentee ballots is among the techniques that made it possible for fraudsters to rig the results of several key recent elections in Russia, including the 2011 State Duma elections and last year’s presidential vote.

Editorials: The Kremlin’s Managed Mayoral Election | The Moscow Times

The most intriguing aspect of the early mayoral election in Moscow is its complete lack of suspense. Almost two weeks have passed since pro-Kremlin Mayor Sergei Sobyanin unexpectedly resigned. He then called for a new election in three months, effectively eliminating any possible competition in the process. The election will be held according to the standard scenario of Russia’s “managed democracy” — that is, by preventing the strongest rivals to Sobyanin from running in the race, guaranteeing low voter turnout and applying the Kremlin’s massive propaganda and administrative resources to manipulate the vote. Civil Platform party leader and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov was expected to have been Sobyanin’s main rival. During his bid for the presidency in March 2012, Prokhorov received nearly 8 percent of the vote nationally and more than 20 percent among Muscovites.

Russia: Moscow mayor calls snap elections in test for Kremlin | NDTV

The Kremlin-backed mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin Wednesday put his job on the line by calling snap elections two years before his mandate expires, in an apparent bid to outmanoeuvre the opposition after protests rocked the Russian capital. Sobyanin told President Vladimir Putin he was resigning but would himself stand in the elections which would be expected to take place on September 8 when other local polls are held nationwide. The election could set up an intriguing clash between Sobyanin, a technocratic stalwart of the ruling United Russia party, and virulently anti-Kremlin figures like the protest leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny.

Russia: Moscow’s mayor steps down to fight election | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, announced Tuesday he is stepping down two years early to stand for a new term in office. Sobyanin suggested that the new mayoral election – Moscow’s first in 10 years – would take place on Sept. 8, the same day as the election for governor is scheduled to take place in the surrounding Moscow Region. The maneuver is largely being viewed as an effort to secure a five-year mayoral term at a time when his strongest potential opponents, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and opposition activist Alexei Navalny, are likely to be deterred from running. Sobyanin announced his decision on June 4 at a meeting of Moscow’s Public Chamber, where its members urged Sobyanin, appointed mayor by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, to call early elections to boost his legitimacy among Muscovites. He is thought likely to continue as acting mayor after formally submitting his resignation to President Vladimir Putin, in the period leading up to the new mayoral election.