Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center, poses for a photo with his wife Yulia, daughter Daria, and son Zakhar at a polling station in Moscow's mayoral election Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. Moscow is holding its first mayoral election in a decade. Although an incumbent backed by President Vladimir Putin is expected to win Sunday's election handily, the candidacy of charismatic opposition leader Alexei Navalny is changing Russian politics in ways that could pose a risk for the Kremlin in the months and years ahead. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday demanded a recount in the Moscow mayoral election where official results showed the incumbent escaping a run-off by one percent.
The Moscow Election Commission said Monday morning that former Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin got just over 51 percent of the vote while Navalny, who energized the race into one of the most competitive in a decade, garnered 27 percent, a strong result for a Russian opposition leader.
"We don't recognize the results that have been announced. They are rigged," Navalny wrote on his blog, demanding a recount.
The election was closely watched around the world amid concerns over the democratic process in Russia and following Navalny's recent conviction of embezzlement on charges he says were politically motivated.
Navalny rose to prominence in the past few years with his anti-corruption campaign.
His frustrated supporters were gearing up for a protest rally Monday evening but Navalny said he is not seeking to bring unrest to Moscow. Instead, Navalny invited Sobyanin, his team and representatives of the election monitoring groups to join in talks.
Sobyanin, who has been mayor since 2011, said in comments carried by Russia news agencies that Moscow "passed the test for free and fair elections."
Golos, Russia's leading independent election monitor, said the voting appeared to have gone smoothly, but there were fears that election officials would artificially increase the turnout to allow them to add votes for Sobyanin. The group will be presenting its assessment of the vote at a briefing later on Monday.
Sunday's mayoral election was the first since 2003. Last year, the Kremlin reversed Putin's 2004 decree abolishing direct elections for the Moscow mayor and other regional leaders.
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