MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny on Wednesday submitted a complete package of documents necessary to be registered as a candidate for the post of Moscow mayor, the election authorities said.
Navalny was nominated in June by the Moscow branch of the opposition party RPR-Parnas, short for “Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party,” led by a number of former government officials who have vocally criticized President Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia party.
He needed the signatures of at least 110 municipal lawmakers to be able to pass what is called the "municipal filter" and run in the September 8 mayoral election.
“The candidate nominee from RPR-Parnas, Alexei Navalny, has submitted the signatures of municipal lawmakers and an application for registration,” a spokesman for the Moscow City Election Commission said.
Navalny, who pledged to “return power to the people” and “extricate our city [Moscow] from the tentacles of Putin and United Russia,” was detained by police after coming out of the Moscow City Election Commission headquarters as he addressed a crowd of supporters gathered in front of the building.
Legislation prohibits any rally from taking place in Moscow if that specific gathering has not been approved by City Hall.
After Navalny was grabbed by police, his supporters “went wild,” an eyewitness told RIA Novosti. Some started shoving officers and even lying down in front of the police car into which Navalny had been placed, he said by telephone from the scene.
The incident did not turn into a major confrontation, though, as Navalny was released immediately after a brief talk with police.
Navalny, who led some of Moscow’s large-scale anti-Kremlin protests in 2011 and 2012, faces embezzlement charges for allegedly misappropriating $500,000 worth of timber from a state-run company. He denies wrongdoing and calls the case politically motivated.
If convicted, he would be ineligible to run for public office.
According to Moscow election authorities, there are 40 people on the mayor nominee list at present. The deadline for submitting signatures and applications ends at 6 p.m. Moscow time (14:00 GMT) Thursday.
Complete packages have been earlier submitted on party ballots by Ivan Melnikov from the Communist Party, Nikolai Levichev from A Just Russia, Sergei Mitrokhin from the Yabloko Party, Mikhail Degtyaryov from the Liberal Democratic Party, and acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin as a self-nominee.
The snap election, set for September 8, was called after Sobyanin announced in June that he would step down, only to run for the office again. Under new legislation, the election will be the first direct vote for Moscow mayor in a decade. Some analysts have interpreted Sobyanin’s decision as a way to get a leg up on other candidates, who will not have much time to campaign, and thus to secure his position for another five years.