MOSCOW, July 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian anti-corruption whistle-blower Alexei Navalny, who is on trial for the embezzlement of half a million dollars of lumber, was on Wednesday officially registered as a candidate for Moscow mayor, an election authority said.
Navalny, who last year led several of the mass protests that swept Russia’s capital following disputed parliamentary elections, has pledged to “return power to the people” and “extricate our city from the tentacles of [Vladimir] Putin and United Russia.”
Navalny is currently on trial for “organizing embezzlement on a grand scale” from a state-owned lumber company in the central Kirov Region, while he was serving as an adviser to that region’s opposition-backed mayor. Navalny has denounced the case as politically motivated. If convicted, he cannot run for office.
On Wednesday, Moscow City Electoral Commission head Valentin Gorbunov announced that Navalny, nominated by the opposition “Republican Party of Russia–People's Freedom Party,” had become the sixth registered candidate in the race, which includes acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who is running as an independent.
The other four candidates are Communist Ivan Melnikov, Liberal-Democrat Mikhail Degtyarev, Yabloko party chairman Sergei Mitrokhin, and A Just Russia’s Nikolai Levichev.
Navalny will receive his registration certificate later because he did not show up for the registration procedure on Wednesday, the election official said.
The opposition leader was unable to pick up his certification because he was busy processing legal paperwork and issuing instructions to his campaign workers in the event of a “long absence,” said his campaign manager, Leonid Volkov.
An electoral commission spokesman had earlier told RIA Novosti that Navalny would be disqualified from the election if convicted in the embezzlement case before election day, September 8.