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Kremlin Ally Wins Moscow Mayor Election; Opposition Claims Fraud

  • VOA News

Russian lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, October 22, 2011.

Russian lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, October 22, 2011.

Russian election officials say Kremlin ally Sergei Sobyanin has won Moscow's mayoral election, well ahead of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is demanding a runoff.

The anti-corruption blogger has denounced the poll results from Sunday's election, saying the vote count had many serious violations.

Results released Monday show incumbent Sobyanin won just over 51 percent of the vote to Navalny's 27 percent. Four other candidates were far behind. Sobyanin needed more than half the votes to avoid a runoff.

Navalny said Monday there was "clear falsification" of votes and Sobyanin's majority is "guaranteed only by fraud."

Kremlin-backed Sobyanin was widely expected to win. He is Russian President Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff. Sobyanin was appointed mayor three years ago.

Navalny campaigned under the burden of a five-year prison sentence. The 37-year-old opposition leader, who has exposed alleged government corruption, says the charges are politically motivated and intended to silence him.

Navalny received his sentence in July, leaving the courtroom in handcuffs. A day later he was suddenly released, pending appeal.

Navalny, who was blocked from state-run television, conducted a Western-style campaign, mobilizing the support of thousands of volunteers.

By contrast, Sobyanin was all but invisible throughout the campaign. Instead, he focused on sprucing up the city of Moscow. Analysts say his campaign strategy was designed to remind voters of his access to the Kremlin and its money
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