Top Russian Court Rejects Appeal to Cancel Moscow Election

MOSCOW, December 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by opposition leader Alexei Navalny to cancel the results of Moscow’s mayoral election.

Navalny, a lawyer turned anti-corruption blogger who came in second in the September election, contested the vote’s results after losing to the Kremlin-backed incumbent, Sergei Sobyanin.

Navalny, who got 27.24 percent of the vote versus Sobyanin’s 51.37 percent, argued that the election was illegitimate because of numerous purported violations, such as irregularities in home voting and unequal access to media for the various candidates.

He first demanded a recount of the ballots then filed 952 procedural complaints over each of the alleged violations as well as a lawsuit to cancel the election results.

A Moscow court rejected Navalny’s lawsuit in September, but he appealed the verdict to take the case to Russia’s Supreme Court. Wednesday’s ruling brings the suit to a definitive legal end.

Navalny, a prominent opposition figure who helped organize large-scale anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow in 2011 and 2012, was convicted in July, along with his business partner Pyotr Ofitserov, for embezzlement in connection with alleged wrongdoing at a state-run timber firm. The men called the charges politically motivated and appealed the verdict.

Navalny and Ofitserov were fined 1 million rubles ($30,000) and respectively sentenced to five and four years in prison, but were released from custody after one day in jail pending their appeal. 

A Russian appeals court suspended both men’s sentences in October, but Russian authorities then charged Navalny with defrauding a Russian subsidiary of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. That case has not yet gone to trial.

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