Opposition Moscow mayoral candidate Aleksei Navalny has called on election authorities not to take actions to inflate the vote count of acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin in order to avoid a second round of voting.
"We are calling on the municipality of Moscow not to conduct any activity toward arranging falsifications," he told reporters after polls closed on September 8. "We perfectly understand that they are highly tempted to add an extra 8-10 percent of votes in their favor in order to pretend they won in the first round. We want to make clear that we will do everything possible to make sure it doesn't happen. We are calling on our observers to do their best in those final couple of hours to prevent a single vote from being stolen."
The vote count is coming down to two rival assessments that seem to be pointing to opposing conclusions about whether Sobyanin will receive the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a second round.
Preliminary results from Moscow election officials, with about 25 percent of the votes counted, show Sobyanin leading with 52.96 percent against 25.88 percent for Navalny.
However, an unofficial vote count based on reports from election monitors and organized by Dozhd TV, shows Sobyanin with 49.8 percent and Navalny polling at 28.2 percent.
Thousands of Sobyanin supporters have gathered for a concert and rally on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square that is expected to last until 1 a.m. on September 9. According to Moscow police, the crowd numbers more than 50,000.
Sobyanin briefly addressed the crowd and said that the September 8 vote was "fairest, most competitive, most open election in the history of Moscow.".
The event is being broadcast on the Rossia 24 state television station. Under Moscow law, it is illegal to hold loud public events after 10 p.m.
According to preliminary election commission figures, the turnout in Moscow was 32.4 percent.
Ruling Party Ahead In Regional Polls
The Moscow vote was being held within the framework of regional elections across Russia.
Eight governors are being elected in the September 8 polls, along with 16 regional legislatures, eight mayors, and five city councils.
Outside of the capital, in Yekaterinburg's mayoral poll, opposition candidate and antidrugs campaigner Yevgeny Roizman has claimed victory, although preliminary results with about 20 percent of precincts counted give ruling United Russia candidate Yakov Silin 34 percent and Roizman 32 percent.
In Moscow Oblast, official exit polls show United Russia's Andrei Vorobyov leading with 72 percent, with former Duma Deputy and opposition leader Gennady Gudkov -- running for the Yabloko party -- running in third with less than 8 percent.
According to preliminary results, United Russia party gubernatorial candidates are winning in Moscow Oblast, Vladimir Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Zabaikalsky Krai, Khakasia, and Magadan Oblast.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, head of United Russia, appeared at its Moscow headquarters and claimed that the party had "performed successfully."
He said a picture of the day's voting was emerging and that it "looks good" for United Russia.
Many regions are expected to post complete preliminary results by 11 p.m. Moscow time on September 8.
With reporting by tvrain.ru, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and gazeta.ru