Acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin will probably win the first direct election for the city’s leader in a decade in the first round, according to a survey published by the Russian research company Levada Center.
Sixty-one percent of respondents believe Sobyanin will get more than 50 percent of the vote on Sept. 8 to avoid a second-round runoff, Moscow-based Levada said in a report published today. Sobyanin has the support of 58 percent among decided voters, while 18 percent plan to back opposition leader Alexey Navalny and 12 percent favor Communist Ivan Melnikov.
Sobyanin, President Vladimir Putin’s former chief of staff who was appointed mayor two years ago, stepped down in June to run in early elections, two years before his term was due to end, to capitalize on his popular lead over the opposition. The Russian capital’s last mayoral election was in 2003 before legislation was changed the following year to grant the president the right to appoint regional leaders.
Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist who helped organize the biggest protests against Putin’s 13-year rule in 2011 and last year, is contesting the election after receiving a five-year prison sentence in July for embezzling cash from a state timber company. He was released for the duration of his appeals process after thousands of backers protested his conviction in central Moscow and other major cities.
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has refrained from running in the mayoral race, saying the authorities had scuppered his party’s prospects of participating through a ban on candidates with foreign assets.
Levada’s survey of 1,000 people was conducted Aug. 27-30 and has a margin of error of no more than 4.8 percentage points.