Freedom House Urges Review of Moscow Mayoral Race

While the mayoral election in Moscow on Sunday, September 8th represented an improvement in some respects over previously flawed elections in Russia, Freedom House urges authorities to hold off on declaring outright victory and scheduling the inauguration for Sergei Sobyanin until all outstanding issues are resolved.

The official tally recorded that acting mayor Sergei Sobyanin received 51.37 percent of the vote – 50 percent +1 is needed to avoid a runoff between the two top vote-getters -- but the independent election monitoring expert, the Movement in Support of Voters’ Rights, GOLOS, reported that Sobyanin received 49.6 percent of the vote, not enough to escape a second round of voting. Second place finisher and leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, received 27.24 percent of the vote, according to the official count, a percentage higher than many pre-election surveys predicted.

With such a slim official margin of victory and enough credible reports of fraud, particularly involving home voting, conducting a recount would be a serious step forward in Russia’s electoral performance in an election of major significance.  Already positive is the contribution of civil society to trying to ensure fair elections; political competitiveness increased public interest and an engaged public provided greater transparency.

Freedom House believes that for Sobyanin to fulfill his promise to hold “the fairest, most competitive and most open elections in the history of Moscow” and affirm the legitimacy of his election, he should accept calls for a recount or a second round of voting. This would be the wiser course than rushing to an inauguration.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2013: Russia

Freedom of the Press 2013: Russia

Special Report: Contending with Putin’s Russia

Nations in Transit 2013: Russia

Freedom on the Net 2012: Russia

Blog: Freedom at Issue