MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – The mayor of Russia’s capital announced Tuesday that he will resign, perhaps as early as this week, triggering a snap election that would be Moscow’s first popular vote for the position in a decade.
“I will soon turn to the Russian president with a request to hold elections for Moscow mayor this year,” Sobyanin said during a meeting with the Moscow Public Chamber, an advisory body. It is believed Sobyanin will be named “acting mayor” for the time being.
The new elections would be held on September 8, along with nationwide gubernatorial polls, and Sobyanin, who was appointed mayor in 2010, said he would run to recapture his position. His term was due to end in 2015, and critics believe the election date – right after the summer holidays – would give the incumbent an unfair advantage since other candidates would have very little time to campaign.
The pro-Kremlin United Russia party, headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said it would support the bid by Sobyanin, who is a member. Prominent opposition activist Alexei Navalny has said he would also throw his hat in the ring, as has billionaire businessman-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov.
The mayoral term of office after the September elections will be five years.
Between 2004 and 2012, the governors of Russia’s regions, as well as the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, were appointed by the president. Direct elections were reintroduced last year in the wake of widespread protests triggered by allegations of fraud in the parliamentary polls.
Updated with RIA Novost story replacing Moscow News story.