Putin ally re-elected as Moscow mayor, but Navalny has strong showing | News | DW | 09.09.2013
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Putin ally re-elected as Moscow mayor, but Navalny has strong showing

Moscow's incumbent mayor, Kremlin-backed Sergei Sobyanin, has been re-elected in Sunday elections . His main challenger Alexei Navalny has said he wants a second round, claiming the result has been falsified.

Russian electoral officials say Sobyanin received 51.37 per cent of the vote, narrowly clearing the barrier required to win outright.

Navalny, his closest competitor received 27.24 per cent.

"There won't be a second round of voting," Valentin Gorbunov, the head of the city election commission said in television comments,

Navalny's campaign said its own exit polls showed Sobyanin winning less than 50 percent of the vote.

Navalny himself has said he will not accept a result without a second round of voting, and claims the result was manipulated.

Low turnout

Turnout for the election was at around 33 percent. The low number is seen as being to Navalny's advantage, because the youth core of his supporter base voted in larger numbers than the more conservative elderly. But Navalny nonetheless said that his opponent's numbers were boosted by people able to vote from home, a system that accommodated the elderly.

Golos, the leading Russian independent election monitor, says the vote appeared to have gone smoothly but there were concerns election officials would artificially boost turnout to Sobyanin's advantage.

"This is the dilemma: Either they manipulate something somehow, but then they could be caught and won't be able to sleep soundly on Monday," Golos co-chairman Grigory Melkonyants said. "Or they could let it be a real election and allow a second round."

A pro-Navalny rally is planned in Moscow for Monday evening in the same square where he helped lead the rallies disputing the 2011 parliamentary elections won by Putin's United Russia party.

Sobyanin served as Putin's deputy from 2005 until he was appointed Moscow mayor in 2010. Navalny first rose to fame through his anti-corruption blog, but solidified his place in the opposition leadership after the protests in 2011 and 2012.

Opposition win in Yekaterinburg

In contrast with Moscow, in Russia's fourth largest city of Yekaterinburg an opposition candidate scored a victory over the Kremlin-backed one.

Anti-drug campaigner Yevgeny Roizman gained 33.25 per cent of the vote to win against Yakov Silin from the ruling United Russia party on 29.07 per cent. A simple majority was enough for outright victory.

It is extremely rare in recent Russian history for an opposition candidate to defeat a Kremlin-backed figure in such a major city.

tj, dr/mr (AP, Reuters)