Putin ally will pay dearly for Moscow poll win, says Navalny
Moscow: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny vowed on Tuesday that he would make an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin pay dearly for beating him in Moscow polls, saying he was preparing to contest the results.
"We will do everything so that Sergei Sobyanin`s victory will cost him dearer than any defeat," Navalny said after coming second to the Kremlin-backed incumbent in Sunday polls for Moscow mayor.
"We now have documentary and legal evidence that a second round should have taken place and that the Moscow election commission falsified the poll," the 37-year-old said on popular Moscow Ekho radio.
The Moscow election commission today upheld the final result, saying that Sobyanin received 51.3 per cent of ballots, just barely enough to avoid a run-off.
Navalny, who polled far more strongly than projected with over 27.2 per cent, has demanded a partial vote recount, claiming the authorities allowed vote irregularities during at-home voting and at polling stations without observers.
In a blog post, Navalny said Sobyanin avoided a second round runoff with a margin of just 31,000 votes, accusing the winner of manipulations at the ballot box.
An anti-corruption blogger, Navalny shot to prominence during huge anti-Putin rallies in the winter of 2011-12.
Analysts said Navalny`s stronger-than-expected showing propelled him to celebrity status in Russian politics and made him a force to be reckoned with.
He called on supporters today to submit reports of violations and claimed he would have secured an outright victory if the voter turnout had reached 60 per cent.
The turnout stood at a meagre 32 per cent which apparently reflected Muscovites` apathy and lack of conviction that they can effect change.
But in a sign that the Moscow authorities were in no mood to hold a vote recount, the city`s election commission upheld the final results today.
Independent vote monitors have said irregularities were registered in Sunday`s election, although they were not as serious as those witnessed in previous polls.
Widespread claims of wholesale fraud in 2011 parliamentary polls sparked unprecedented protests against Putin`s ruling party and the Russian strongman himself.
Putin was scheduled to attend the Moscow mayor`s inauguration on Thursday, a Kremlin source said last week.
Navalny said the authorities were in a hurry to hold the inauguration as soon as possible to cement Sobyanin`s win.
"They understand perfectly well that we have thousands of observers from whom we need to collect papers in order to prepare thousands of complaints," he said.
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