The party of Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffered big losses in Moscow’s city council elections as candidates endorsed by his arch-rival won almost half the seats. With all the votes counted, 20 candidates supported by opposition leader Alexei Navalny got seats in the 45-member legislature. All of the 20 candidates, although often nominally opposing authorities, were endorsed by Navalny’s Smart Voting strategy which called on voters to cast their ballots in order to oust the candidates of Putin’s United Russia party.
In a sign that United Russia is losing ground in Moscow, the party did not officially nominate a single candidate for the Moscow City Duma, and all of its members or candidates affiliated with the party ran as independents, playing down their ties to the party. The opposition celebrated Sunday’s election results that would cut the pro-government presence in the Moscow city council from 38 to 25 but many expressed disappointment with what has been perceived as an unfair registration process.
Daria Besedina, a candidate from the liberal Yabloko party who was allowed on the ballot and won in her district, said on Monday that she would vote for the dissolution of the legislature when it convenes. “We shouldn’t forget that these were not real elections – a lot of genuine (opposition) candidates who would have won were not allowed to run,” she tweeted. “Moscow would have got an opposition Duma if all the candidates were registered.”