The Kremlin's dour candidate for Moscow mayor may have shunned debates and meeting his electorate face to face, but he broke unexpectedly into song Friday in a bid get supporters out to vote.
The incumbent mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, who just a day earlier cancelled a planned live televised
question and answer session with Muscovites, decided to sing to them instead on Avtoradio station, popular with drivers for its frequent traffic updates.
"Put your mark on the ballot paper — before it's too late, before it's too late," sang the enthusiastic host as Sobyanin nodded uncomfortably to the music wearing huge headphones, waiting for the right moment to sing the refrain.
"We shall choose the mayor," he unmusically inserted in chorus. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" the hosts joyfully replied with smiles and fist pumps.
"Shall we stay at home?" Sobyanin, a technocrat known for his lack of charisma, sang in a monotone with a guitarist visible behind him. "No! No! No!"
The song followed about 50 minutes of discussion about the city's problems and was meant to highlight the "importance of the elections," the host explained. The polls are scheduled for September 8.
The programme was immediately ridiculed by Sobyanin's main opponent, protest leader Alexei Navalny, who had complained earlier this month that Avtoradio rejected airing his political ads despite a signed contract.
"Watch with caution," Navalny wrote posting the video on his blog, "you may bleed from the eyes."
On Avtoradio's Facebook page, people were not impressed, accusing the station of trying to curry favour with the mayor. "Shame on you!" one listener wrote.
"The deer herder is out of tune," wrote another, somewhat unkindly. Sobyanin is originally from the Khanty-Mansi district in the far north, where reindeer herding is a traditional livelihood of indigenous Khanty and Mansi people.
Murzilki Live is a morning programme hosted by a music band that sings parodies of Russian pop hits.
The song "Before It's Too Late" that they parodied with Sobyanin was a Soviet hit originally composed to protest the deployment of US Pershing II missiles in Europe in the 1980s.
The original words were: "To a sunny world -- Yes! Yes! Yes! To a nuclear blast -- No! No! No!"
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