Votes Contested in Mayoral Race
Published: September 11, 2013 (Issue # 1777)
Acting mayor Sergei Sobyanin was declared the winner Monday of the Moscow mayoral election with 51.37 percent of votes, barely clearing the 50-percent barrier needed to avoid a runoff against opposition candidate Alexei Navalny, who received 27.24 percent.
Even though Navalny’s result was much higher than that predicted by polls ahead of the elections, he refused to acknowledge it, saying there was enough fraud to raise Sobyanin’s percentage and avoid a second round.
Thousands of people attended a pro-Navalny rally Monday evening at Bolotnaya Ploshchad at which the candidate said the Moscow Elections Commission had agreed to consider a vote recount and a possible second round in the race.
Thanking all those in attendance, he said he was grateful to be a part of the opposition movement and to be at the rally despite the fact that “Sobyanin and United Russia are trying to steal our victory. ”
“I’m happy to be even a small part of this, thank you all, my friends. Thank you to all the teams that worked at the elections, to those who will work further in the second round, which I’m certain we will achieve,” Navalny said from the stage.
“Is this a rally of defeat or a rally of victory?” he asked the crowd, who responded with a cheer of “victory!”
At the rally, which police said saw a turnout of 9,000 people but Navalny’s campaign said drew 60,000 people, the anti-corruption campaigner also called on other parties to join him in fighting United Russia.
He said his campaign headquarters would remain open until a runoff was granted. Ahead of the rally, the Moscow City Elections Commission said there would be no vote recount. Commission head Valentin Gorbunov called Navalny’s demand “just another PR action” but said they would consider any written complaint from the Navalny camp. He added that only a court could decide to re-examine the election results.
Gorbunov also compared the demand for a recount to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, in which presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko and his supporters demonstrated and set up camps in central Kiev to protest an allegedly fraudulent election result.
“No matter how the election went, if you lose, let’s cancel all [the votes] and count them again,” Gorbunov told journalists, Interfax reported.
The result in the 2004 Ukraine presidential vote was overturned in the end and a re-vote held in which Yushchenko won. But many pro-Kremlin officials and pundits consider the Orange Revolution a dangerous example of foreign intervention in a country’s domestic political affairs, because Western governments supposedly paid people to take to the streets of Kiev to protest.
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