Navalny submits hundreds of complaints against mayor poll, demands halt to inauguration

Navalny submits hundreds of complaints against mayor poll, demands halt to inauguration
Lawyer and popular blogger Aleksey Navalny has submitted almost a thousand lawsuits to city and district courts seeking to overturn the victory of Sergey Sobyanin in Sunday's Moscow mayoral election.

On Thursday Navalny and his aides arrived to the Moscow City Court carrying cardboard boxes containing complaints alleging violations in the September 8 election.

Navalny told the press near the court building that he was submitting one lawsuit to the city court seeking to cancel the poll results on the basis of two major violations – the unequal access to mass media for different candidates, and the allegation that the district election commission was handing out foodstuffs to pensioners, which can be considered as bribing of voters.

Many Moscow pensioners received foodstuffs shortly before the elections. The presents were distributed by social workers in connection with the Moscow Day holiday.

Navalny told reporters that he personally thought that no one would question the first of the charges.

He also said that the boxes he delivered to the city court contained 951 lawsuits that should be transferred to district courts and which were describing procedure violations during the elections, especially against the work of mobile ballot boxes that allowed city residents who could not leave their residences to vote from home.

We know that all home-voting registers were made with violations,” Navalny said adding that in many constituencies the percentage of people who chose to vote at home was unusually high.

We know that Sergey Sobyanin got less than 49 percent [of votes] and we will prove this,” Navalny added. If the blogger manages to fulfill this promise, this would mean a second round of elections. 

According to official data Sobyanin won the Sunday poll with 51.37 percent of supporters and Navalny was second with 27.24 percent.

Talking to the press on Thursday Navalny also said that in case the court officially accepts his complaint Sobyanin’s inauguration, scheduled for the evening of the same day, would be illegal. “We have proof that would become the foundation of the court’s future ruling and they must now suspend the realization of the elections’ commission decision. This is common legal practice,” the poll runner-up stated.

However, the court refused to order the postponement of the inauguration for the period of consideration of Navalny’s complaints. “Navalny has not delivered any arguments that would prove that the refusal to take such measures would become an obstacle in fulfilling a future court order,” Interfax news agency quoted the court’s press service as saying. The press service also reported that the decision to accept or reject Navalny’s lawsuit will be taken within 5 days. 

The inauguration went on as planned and Sergey Sobyanin was sworn in as Moscow mayor on Thursday evening.

President Vladimir Putin was present at the ceremony, congratulated his long-time ally and said that the mayoral elections had taken place “amidst really free and absolutely competitive rivalry, without any pressure or attempts to distort their results”.

People have seen that in our country, in large cities such as Moscow the power structures are formed not through destructive acts and civil standoff, but through civilized democratic procedure,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, congratulates Sergei Sobyanin at his official inauguration as Moscow Mayor, at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War on Poklonnaya Hill. (RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov)

The president acknowledged the incidents of protest voting at the poll, but noted that they were targeted not against Sergey Sobyanin personally, but against the arrogance and arbitrariness of civil servants.

The day after the poll thousands of Navalny’s supporters held a rally at Bolotnaya Square near the Kremlin and the opposition blogger told the gathering that he considered getting almost 30 percent of the vote a victory. An even larger rally was initially scheduled on Saturday and licenced by the city authorities, but Navalny’s HQ decided to cancel it citing procedure complications.

Navalny took part in the mayoral poll soon after a court in the provincial city of Kirov convicted him of a major fraud committed in 2009 when he assisted the local governor with reforms in the timber industry. Navalny was sentenced to five years, but has not yet been taken to prison as the sentence would only come into force after the court considers the defense’s appeal.