Putin Critic’s Support Surges on Moscow Mayor Corruption Charges

Support for Alexey Navalny, a top critic of President Vladimir Putin running for Moscow mayor, has jumped as he’s published corruption allegations against the incumbent, a poll showed.

Navalny would get the backing of 20 percent of Muscovites at next month’s election, up from 15 percent a week earlier, according to the survey by Moscow-based Synovate Comcon released today. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin had support of 63.5 percent, down from 75 percent. The Aug. 8-14 poll of 1,200 decided voters had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Two daughters of Sobyanin own apartments worth $3.5 million and $5 million respectively, Navalny, who was sentenced to prison last month, alleged in blog postings on Aug. 9 and 13.

One of the daughters, Anna, lives in St. Petersburg with her husband and the apartment has nothing to do with her father, said Gulnara Penkova, a spokeswoman for Sobyanin. Sobyanin said the property in the Russian capital held by his daughter Olga was declared openly seven years ago.

Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist who helped organize the biggest protests against Putin’s 13-year rule in 2011 and last year, vowed to contest the next presidential election in 2018 and put Putin and his billionaire allies in jail if he won. His conviction for embezzlement, if upheld, would preclude him from ever holding public office.

Navalny has 13 percent backing to Sobyanin’s 67 percent, according to an opinion poll published yesterday by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, or VTsIOM. The survey had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said this week that it had uncovered illegal foreign financing for Navalny’s campaign for Moscow mayor in the Sept. 8 ballot. Navalny condemned what he termed pressure on his campaign, denying getting foreign funds.

On July 18, Navalny received a five-year prison sentence for embezzling cash from a state timber company. He was later released for the duration of his appeals process after thousands of backers protested his conviction in central Moscow and other major cities.

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