Kremlin ally Sergei Sobyanin has won a Moscow mayoral election, according to results released by electoral officials after a nearly complete vote count, but opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed the results were falsified.
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."
"We demand that a second round is held. If that is not done… we will appeal to the citizens and ask them to take to the streets of Moscow."
The city authorities have already allowed Navalny to hold a rally of up to 2,500 people in central Moscow on Monday evening, during which he has promised to decide future strategy.
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.