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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Navalny challenges Sobyanin as Moscow mayor vote begins

Navalny challenges Sobyanin as Moscow mayor vote begins

A man casts his ballot in Moscow's mayoral election in MoscowAnalysts say much depends on how free and fair the mayoral vote is seen to be
People in the Russian capital Moscow are voting in the first mayoral election in nearly a decade.
Current mayor Sergei Sobyanin, the Kremlin's candidate, is being challenged by Alexei Navalny, leader of the national protest movement.
Mr Navalny is currently on bail after being found guilty of embezzlement in what he insists was a political trial.
Mayoral elections were abolished in 2004 but re-instated as a concession to pro-democracy campaigners.
Mr Navalny has run a Western-style campaign, holding informal meetings with voters outside metro stations, and using glossy posters of himself with his family.
He is credited with bringing grassroots politics to the Russian capital, inspiring thousands of volunteers to support his campaign.
Alexei Navalny at the final rally of his campaign in Moscow, 6 SeptemberAlexei Navalny has campaigned prominently in the capital
The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow says that if Mr Navalny forces the vote to go to a second round it will be a major setback for the Kremlin.
Mr Sobyanin became mayor in 2010 after Yuri Luzhkov, who governed the city for almost two decades, was forced out of office.
Mr 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.
Analysts say much depends on how free and fair the mayoral vote is seen to be.
Polls opened at 08:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and will close at 20:00.