MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) – The first mayoral election in Moscow in nearly a decade got underway on Sunday with the opening of more than 3,300 polling stations.
Acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, an ally and former administration head of President Vladimir Putin, is uniformly expected to win the mayoral seat by a wide margin. Turnout for Russia’s protest leader Alexei Navalny, though, will determine to what extent Moscow residents oppose the Kremlin and its policies, political pundits said.
The other four candidates are Communist Ivan Melnikov, Liberal-Democrat Mikhail Degtyarev, Yabloko party chairman Sergei Mitrokhin, and A Just Russia’s Nikolai Levichev.
Over 42,000 police officers, including 10,000 at polling stations, will ensure security during Sunday’s election in Moscow. At least 40 ambulances and up to 4,000 medical personnel have been deployed, local authorities said.
Over 433 million rubles ($13 million) has been allocated from the Moscow budget for the mayoral election. The biggest share has been spent on the public information campaign and preparing polling stations.
The polling stations will remain open until 8 p.m. Moscow time (4 p.m. GMT) on Sunday. Some 7,000 web cameras have been installed at the polling stations in the city in an effort to prevent voting fraud.
The Moscow City Election Commission (Mosizbirkom) has predicted a 50 percent voter turnout for Sunday’s election.
Updates with voter turnout in para 7.