Court Clears Putin of Suspicion of Illegally Promoting Sobyanin

October 2, 2013
Владимир Путин Фото: Алексей Филиппов / РИА Новости

A Moscow court has decided that the results of the september mayoral election will stand, thus dismissing the complaints brought forward by opposition candidate Alexei Navalny.

Most notably, the court decided that President Vladimir Putin did not break campaign laws when he gave an interview the week of the election where he suggested that Navalny could not be trusted and Sobyanin would win. As such campaigning is banned by Russian election law, the court’s decision, that the words of the President did not have an effect on the results, is curious.

The courts also ruled that the extensive media coverage of the Sobyanin campaign did not break campaign laws. – Ed.

The Moscow City Court has explained the reasons for rejecting the claim submitted by the opposition leader Alexei Navalny contesting results of the Moscow mayor election. As reported by “Interfax” on October 1, referring to the statement of reasons, the court found that, inter alia, the interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave before the elections had no impact on the outcome of the vote.

According to Judge Alexandra Lopatkina, the interview, in which Putin told “First Channel” and an American news agency, Associated Press, that the survey results favored Sergei Sobyanin, was not intended to persuade voters to vote for Sobyanin, and therefore cannot be considered illegal campaigning.

The court also did not find elements of abuse of official position in the election campaign by Sergei Sobyanin. In addition, the judge found no evidence that would substantiate the plaintiff’s allegations of violations during home voting, forcing voters to participate in the elections and bribery.

Navalny’s lawsuit was dismissed on September 20, but then the court announced only the judicial disposition, without explaining the reasons for its decision. Lawyers for the opposition leader declared their intention to appeal the decision of the Moscow City Court in a higher court.

Navalny appealed against the outcome of the mayoral election on September 8, just a few days after the validation of the results. The opposition leader claimed that the media controlled by the city authorities were engaged in outright promotion of Sobyanin, who at that time was the acting Mayor of Moscow. In addition, Navalny noted that at the polling stations they distributed food parcels to pensioners. The member of the opposition considered that a form of vote buying, and the city authorities pointed out that distribution of food was part of the Day of the City.

According to the election results, Sobyanin won the first round with 51.37 percent of the vote. Navalny came second with 27.24 percent of the vote. The member of the opposition and his supporters believe that Sobyanin scored the votes needed to win in the first round by illegal means, including through numerous violations during home voting.