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Russia's Regional Elections: Liveblog

The upstart candidacy of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has shaken up the first Moscow mayoral election in a decade. Although Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin was widely expected to win easily, Navalny supporters hoped he could get enough support to force a runoff. Throughout Russia, thirty-three provinces were voting on September 8 to elect eight governors, 16 regional assemblies, and the mayors of 11 regional capitals.

A combo photo of Moscow mayoral candidates Aleksei Navalny (left) and incumbent Sergei Sobyanin
02:26 8.9.2013
Final update:

-The official vote count gives Sobyanin 51.33 percent and Navalny 27.27, meaning there will be no runoff.

-The Navalny campaign has accused the Election Commission of voter fraud and has demanded a runoff. He has called for people to come out to protest tonight.

-Navalny's campaign exit polls said he received 36 percent of the vote to Sobyanin's 46, which would have forced a runoff. Polling from the state-run Public Opinion Foundation, however said Sobyanin got 56 percent to Navalny's 29 percent.
-In Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, Yevgeny Roizman, a 50-year old anti-narcotics campaigner and controversial opposition activist, has declared victory.

-United Russia dominated everywhere else. Preliminary results show the ruling United Russia party gubernatorial candidates winning in Moscow Oblast, Vladimir Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Zabaikalsky Krai, Khakasia, and Magadan Oblast.
14:04 8.9.2013
Navalny outside polling station 1488, where he and his wife Julia, voted. Russian tweeters are having a field day with the number, which is popular among white supremacists. Liberals have expressed concern about Navalny's nationalistic views. For more on this issue, read Robert Coalson's piece here.

Navalny himself took the irony in stride. "Yes, my voting station is really that number," he wrote on Twitter.

14:33 8.9.2013
The story so far appears to be turnout, which at this point is significantly lower than it was for presidential elections last year. Navalny's hopes rest largely on overcoming the government's ability to bring civil servants to the polls in large numbers, by getting otherwise disaffected voters to the ballot box.

Here Aleksei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Echo Moskvy radio station, says turnout in Moscow at 12pm was 7.14%, compared to 12.4% at the same time during presidential elections.

14:52 8.9.2013
RFE/RL's Russian service, (live-blogging in Russian here), reports concerns of prison voting, where turnout is extremely high and observers are scarce. An election observer for Navalny reports similar mass "get-out-the-vote" efforts at a hospital. The concern is that vulnerable populations are put under duress to vote for the state-backed candidate.
14:57 8.9.2013
15:15 8.9.2013
In "the other" competitive race - the battle for mayor of Yekaterinburg - opposition candidate Yevgeny Roizman reports on Facebook that all exit polls have him ahead. He says he is concerned, however, that more than half of respondents refused to answer.
15:27 8.9.2013
A picture of Navalny's campaign at work, earlier this morning. Navalny, who has said his strategy was partially inspired by a race in the HBO TV series, "The Wire," ran a campaign that contrasted starkly with Sobyanin's. Working with thousands of volunteers, the candidate set up "cubes" - a 21st century version of a soapbox - to talk to voters throughout Moscow. Sobyanin, a technocrat who is generally popularl and has been credited with cosmetic improvements to the city, refused to debate and appeared almost exclusively at official mayoral events.

15:38 8.9.2013
Strong words on low voter turnout today from Grigory Chkhartishvili (AKA Boris Akunin), a beloved mystery-novelist, and a supporter of the opposition:

"Turnout is shamefully low right now. Some bad thoughts right now: - maybe this serves us right? Perhaps we have what we deserve? Hey, you all at the dacha, come back to Moscow. The polling stations are open until 8. If you don't do it, then you can't whine that life is worthless. You yourself will be to blame."
15:48 8.9.2013
Our Russian service reports that in Volgograd, the head of the region himself violated election law, by voting in the election without actually having permanent residence.
15:56 8.9.2013

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