Majority party helps opposition run for Moscow mayoral elections

Representatives from
the ruling party United Russia have helped several opposition candidates get
registered for the mayoral election. Experts consider this to be uncommon for
Russian politics and qualify this as an attempt to avoid protests.

In order to be
registered as a candidate it is necessary to collect a minimum of 110 Municipal
Deputy signatures. Acting Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, has already
collected 250 signatures, but submitted only 115 to the Moscow Election
Commission, although still more than required.

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As a self-nominated candidate
Sobyanin also submitted 80,000 signatures from average voters as well.

Besides Sobyanin only
Ivan Melnikov from KPRF was able to collect the required minimum of signatures.
Nikolai Levichev (from A Just Russia) received help from United Russia and
collected 95 signatures.

He was closely followed by Sergey Mitrokhin (from
Yabloko) with 82 signatures and Mikhail Degtyarev (from LDPR) with 78

Upon Sobyanin’s
request, members of United Russia have also helped the famous Russian
oppositionist Aleksey Navalny collect signatures of Municipal Deputies.
However, Navalny agreed to accept only 49 signatures.

According to the Chief of
Navalny’s office, Leonid Volkov, from all the signatures offered by Moscow’s
authorities, only those of independent (non-party) Municipal Deputies were

By Tuesday morning Navalny had 73 signatures collected on
his own and was estimated to soon reach 85, but nevertheless he accepted some

Alexey Navalny. Photo by AP

Like Sobyanin, Navalny is in no need of average voters’ signatures due to
the fact that he was nominated on behalf of the liberal party RPR-PARNAS (Republican
Party of Russia).

For a party candidate to be registered it is enough to submit
only the required number of signatures from Municipal Deputies.

As Sobyanin had said a
week before, Navalny’s participation in the upcoming election will give
Muscovites a wider range of candidates to choose from. Not all Municipal
Deputies who have given their votes to Navalny support his program, but they have
said that they obey party policy.

Maksim Grigoriev,
Chief of the Democracy Problems Research Foundation, was very happy with
Sobyanin’s actions and said that this demonstrates the responsible behavior of

“This is being done in order to get a realistic picture
during elections, to show real support of candidates by city-dwellers. Due to
the fact that Aleksey Navalny was nominated by a rather poorly-supported
RPR-PARNAS party, he does not have a lot of like-minded Municipal Deputies by
his side. In my opinion it is extremely important that all political forces
take part in the upcoming mayoral election to give Muscovites the ability to
support those, to whose program they can relate to. In this case we will be
able to attract more city-dwellers to the election, ensuring that we get a
clear picture of the political situation.”

Mayoral elections

The head of elite
studies in the RAN Sociology Institute, Olga Kryshtanovskaya, agrees that
Sobyanin’s support of opposition candidates is at the same time unordinary and

“On the one hand,
Russia is going through a democratization process and right now the issue
concerning election legitimacy is very important. The authorities don’t want
any riots and meetings, which have to do with not admitting the election
results. In order to keep the situation under control a great variety of
political forces must take part in the election race.”

According to the
expert, the authorities’ main priority is election legitimacy. Sobyanin is
quite sure of his abilities and strengths, he hardly considers Navalny to be
his competitor. Victory in the upcoming election will give him the ability to
methodically work and do his job in the nearby future.

believes that after the protest meetings following the 2011-2012 election, the
authorities want to secure themselves and not to have to keep city-dwellers


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There is also another
meaning to Sobyanin’s actions. He somehow resembles a Trojan horse. The issue
is that having accepted the signatures, Navalny may be reproached as to
receiving handouts from authorities and not being able to collect those
signatures himself. His so-called independence could be questioned, according
to the sociologist.

She has also stated
that while conducting sociological research, she discovered that Sobyanin is
leading the race with a big advantage – he got a total of 59 percent of the
votes. Navalny, his runner-up, received 19 percent of the votes.

Moscow’s mayoral elections will be held on September 8th.
About 40 candidates were planning on entering the race, but it is expected that
only Sobyanin, Navalny and candidates from KPRF, A Just Russia, LDPR and
Yabloko will actually compete.

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