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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

navalny_08_13_2013

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been trying to rally the crowds behind his candidacy for mayor of Moscow.



MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was re-elected with about 51 percent of the vote in the first direct mayoral election in a decade, though he faced an opposition challenge.

All eyes had been on Alexei Navalny, the first-ever opposition candidate to participate in the race for the Russian capital's top job.

Though its current mayor, backed by President Vladimir Putin, was expected to win, the entry of charismatic Navalny, 37, had been seen as a challenge to the Kremlin.

Navalny, who faces a five-year prison sentence on what he calls "political charges" of theft, was able to receive over 27 percent of ballots cast, according to partial results of the Electoral Commission.

He had managed to to rally the crowds in this city of about 11.5 million people.

GROWING DISSATISFACTION

Muscovites warned that if the incumbent, 55-year-old, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would not get massive support of at least 60 or 70 percent of the vote, it would show growing dissatisfaction with President Putin's policies.

The winner will have to listen to an electorate that appears increasingly concerned about the economy, explained a middle aged Moscow resident.

"Changes?", she wondered. "Salaries should be stable, pensions should be increased, people should have jobs and young mothers should have better opportunities to get places for their children in kindergartens.”

That's a clear warning to the Kremlin, which has traditionally appointed the mayors of key cities Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Political reforms reinstated direct elections in 2012, allowing residents of Russia’s wealthiest city to choose from six candidates for the first time in some 10 years.

(BosNewsLife's NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).

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