Moscow votes in pivotal mayoral race

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People in the Russian capital Moscow are voting in the first mayoral election in nearly a decade.
Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin is widely expected to win Sunday\’s election to decide who will lead the city of Moscow. He is Russian President Vladimir Putin\’s former chief of staff. Sobyanin was appointed mayor three years ago.
However, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny has made the race what has been described as the first genuinely competitive Russian election since the early post-Soviet years. 
Opinion polls indicate Sobyanin will handily win a majority of votes, with Navalny earning about 20 percent. 
Navalny is campaigning 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 has been blocked from state-run television, has conducted a Western-style campaign, mobilizing the support of thousands of volunteers.
By contrast, Sobyanin has been all but invisible throughout the campaign. He has instead focused on sprucing up the city of Moscow. 
Sobyanin became mayor in 2010 after Yuri Luzhkov, who governed the city for almost two decades, was forced out of office.
Sobyanin has had a low profile during the race, shunning debates with the five other candidates.
In late 2011, Moscow was the scene of the biggest anti-government protests since Soviet times, after a general election marred by allegations of ballot-rigging.
Source: Agencies

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