Putin ally wins tight Moscow poll, Navalny vows protests
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday warned of protests after narrowly failing to push Moscow's pro-Kremlin mayor into a run-off in tight elections he claimed were marred by falsifications.world Updated: Sep 09, 2013 11:45 IST
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday warned of protests after narrowly failing to push Moscow's pro-Kremlin mayor into a run-off in tight elections he claimed were marred by falsifications.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin just crept over the finish line to win 51.3 percent of votes in Sunday's poll, which analysts saw as a crucial test of the protest mood in Russia over a year into President Vladimir Putin's new Kremlin term.
Navalny, who campaigned under the shadow of a controversial conviction for embezzlement, polled far more strongly than projected with over 27 percent, but contended the results were falsified.
In a nationwide day of local polls whose results may worry the Kremlin, opposition anti-drugs campaigner Yevgeny Roizman also defeated the pro-Kremlin candidate in elections for Russia's fourth-largest city Yekaterinburg.
Sobyanin, a long time ally of Putin, won 51.32 percent of the vote and Navalny 27.27 percent, the Moscow election commission said, in a count based on 99.6 percent of polling stations reporting.
But Navalny, 37, insisted he had managed to force the mayor into a second round and vowed street protests if the authorities did not acknowledge Sobyanin had polled less than 50 percent.
"What we are seeing now are clear falsifications," he told reporters in a late night briefing at his campaign headquarters in Moscow.
"We demand that a second round is held. If that is not done... we will appeal to the citizens and ask them to take to the streets of Moscow."
The city authorities have already allowed Navalny to hold a rally of up to 2,500 people in central Moscow on Monday evening, during which he has promised to decide future strategy.