Alexei Navalny, Putin Foe, Demands Recount in Moscow Mayor's Race
Pushes In Moscow's mayoral race, Russian opposition leader and mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny demanded a recount Monday after official voting results prevented Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow's acting mayor, from having to face Navalny in a runoff. According to the Moscow Election Commission, Sobayanin secured 51% of the vote. Navalny, Sobaynin's leading opponent on bail following an accusation of alleged embezzlement, has earned 27% of the vote according to the electoral commission. If Sobyanin has less than 50% of the vote, the election would require a runoff. Exit poll data compiled by the independent Alliance of Observers indicates that Sobyanin only had 49.8% of the electoral vote. The opponent’s campaigners believe Kremlin-backed Sobyanin poll results were rigged, which could lead to post-election protests.
Navalny believes he was accused of embezzlement because of his charismatic political opposition towards United Russia in declaring the current feudal system corrupt. It’s probable that Russian President Putin and his allies framed Navalny of extortion due to his anti-corruption crusade. In this case, it’s highly likely exit polls the Sobyanin’s campaign cites are rigged to prevent the elections from continuing onto the second round. This wouldn’t be the first time Russia’s elections have been accused of electoral fraud. In 2012, the Kremlin installed 180,000 web cameras to prevent electron fraud during March's presidential election.
Navalny stands behind his campaign against United Russia, even after serving a five-year prison sentence. He promised "to destroy the feudal state that's being built in Russia," as well as the "system of government where 83% of national wealth is owned by half a percent of the population.''
His steadfast pro-democracy campaign, despite charges of embezzlement, is admirable. Although Sobyanin polling indicates he has 51% of the vote, it’s still uncertain if the voting data was manipulated.
Putin openly expressed his opinion of main challenger Navalny in an interview with the AP and Channel 1. He stated, "It is one thing to jump on the trendy bandwagon of combating corruption, but it’s a totally different thing to manage a city of 12 million and do a good job actually combating corruption.”
It’s interesting that Putin doesn’t actually deny Navalny’s accusations of political corruption of United Russia in his statement. Regardless of the electoral poll results, Navalny’s commitment to reconfiguring United Russia should not lead to legal persecution.