MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court declined Thursday to annul the inauguration of Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, effectively throwing out opposition leader and rival candidate Alexei Navalny’s bid to overturn the results of last weekend's elections that he and his supporters claim were marred by widespread violations in favor of the Kremlin-backed incumbent, RAPSI legal news agency reported.
Judge Alexandra Lopatkina said Navalny’s demand was disproportionate and could violate the legitimate rights of broad sections of the electorate.
As well as a petition to the Moscow city court to annul the result of the elections, Navalny has begun filing 951 lawsuits with 36 Moscow district courts, that he said in a blog post Wednesday run to over 50,000 pages, about voting irregularities at individual polling stations across the capital.
Navalny’s lawsuits were delivered to the courts ahead of Sergei Sobyanin’s official inauguration as Moscow mayor Thursday in a World War Two museum at Moscow’s Poklonnaya Gora, a Soviet era memorial park.
The lawsuit filed by Navalny to overturn the results of the elections also included a request to cancel Sobyanin’s inauguration, Navalny’s campaign manager Leonid Volkov said in a tweet Thursday. After handing in the lawsuit to the Moscow city court, Navalny told reporters that he was told it was likely to be looked at the same day.
"There is incontrovertible legal evidence in these boxes. We will do everything to protect the votes of Muscovites that were cast for [candidates] including myself," Navalny said, according to media reports.
Official results put Navalny in second place in the Moscow mayoral elections held on Sunday – the first such elections in the capital for ten years – with 27.2 percent of the vote, compared to the 51.4 percent received by Sobyanin. A Communist Party candidate came third with 10.7 percent.
In disputing the results, one of Navalny’s key complaints has focused on the issue of home voting, which he says played a “fundamental role” in determining results at the 951 polling stations about which he has filed complaints. Navalny and his supporters allege that home votes are more easily falsified, and that without home votes Sobyanin would have received 49.47 percent of the vote.
If any one candidate receives less than 50 percent in Moscow mayoral elections a second round of voting to choose between the top two candidates is mandated by Russian electoral law.
The authorities have vigorously denied that falsification took place during the elections. President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the voting on September 8 was the most transparent in Russia’s history.
The Moscow Electoral Commission dismissed all official complaints of violations reported on election day, and said subsequently there were no grounds for a recount.
Aside from home votes, Navalny is basing his call to annul the elections on allegations that Sobyanin illegally employed the administrative resources available to him as acting mayor to give himself greater access to the media during the campaign, and to voters. Navalny also contends that food bought with public money was distributed in an effort to persuade people to vote for Sobyanin.
Navalny’s comprehensive legal challenge to the Moscow mayoral elections is markedly different to his reaction to the 2011 elections to the State Duma when he called for street rallies to protest against alleged fraud.
During a rally Monday, Navalny did not call on his supporters to take part in unsanctioned street protests to show their anger at the alleged electoral violations. He told them instead that the Moscow mayoral elections had marked the beginning of politics in Russia, and the birth of the political opposition.
Updates with court decision, changes headline