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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
16:05 8.9.2013
Tom Balmforth has been talking to voters in Moscow today. This one, a 55 year-old translator who voted for Navalny, tentatively welcomed the return of elections to Moscow after almost a decade. She was not sure it would amount to much though.

"It's good, but it's useless,: she said. "Everyone knows this, but you have to [take part] just for a clear conscience."

16:11 8.9.2013
16:15 8.9.2013
At 3PM Moscow time, turnout was at about 19%. Navalny supporters are desperately calling for people to go out and vote.
16:27 8.9.2013
Earlier today city authorities sanctioned a planned Navalny rally scheduled for tomorrow at 7PM MSK. Acting head of the city administration's regional security department Aleksei Mayorov said Navalny's team could hold a rally with up to 2,500 people at Bolotnaya Square. Mayorov said other parties and groups would also be holding rallies at designated areas of Moscow on Monday.
16:51 8.9.2013
Navalny and family after voting today. He warns the horde of journalists not to trample his kids and then briefly sums up his hopes for the day:

"I hope the election [process] goes well today, there are no violations, and I would really like Muscovites to be able to express their will and to choose the mayor they want and to define the political atmosphere they want to have in the new Moscow."

17:02 8.9.2013
Low turnout is not just a Moscow problem today. Russian media reports low voter turnout in many areas of the 33 regions taking part in Sunday's elections. Polls have closed in Russia's Far East. In the eastern city of Khabarovsk, hit by recent flooding, less than 30% of eligible voters cast ballots.
17:22 8.9.2013
Navalny posts an urgent release on his blog. He says he's been looking at exit polls and knows that in order to get to the second round, "we need one more burst of strength."

"Get up already and vote," he says. "If you voted already, then pick up the phone and make sure that two or three of your friends also come and vote. If you've exhausted your telephone calls, then go to the apartment buildings around you and knock on doors. No one will think you're crazy."

17:44 8.9.2013
Peter Oftitserov, who was was tried on embezzlement charges along with Navalny and sentenced to four years in prison (Navalny was given 5), has also made a passionate appeal. From his Facebook page:

"Today and yesterday I heard the same phrase: 'Why vote, when everything has already been decided,' and other variations of that stupid expression."

"Imagine if you go with your girlfriend or wife and kids for a nighttime walk on the street. You run into some lowlife, who wants not only to take your money, but also commit some outrage against your girlfriend or wife. He is bigger than you and your chances of winning are small - or maybe even nonexistent...So what will you do? Sigh and go home, because there's nothing you can do or will you fight until you have exhausted all power?"
18:00 8.9.2013
Roizman's campaign chief says exit polls currently show him up by 10 percent. Again, he's running as the opposition candidate in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth largest city.
18:01 8.9.2013

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