MOSCOW (AP) — Russian news agency Intefax says a Moscow courthouse has upheld the results of mayoral elections in which the Kremlin-backed incumbent narrowly avoided a run-off with opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The judge rejected Navalny's claims that the campaign was marked by abuse of government finances and selected voter fraud, ruling that there were no grounds for a recount.
Navalny's success in the elections proved an embarrassment to his Kremlin-backed opponent, incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. Sobyanin got 51 percent of the vote, just avoiding the 50 percent cut-off that would have forced him into a second round against Navalny.
Navalny is awaiting an appeal trial on charges of embezzlement, but his strong showing at the polls could make it risky to put him behind bars.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A Russian court has announced a date for the appeals trial of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was convicted of embezzlement earlier this year.
Navalny, who recently ran a surprisingly strong campaign for the position of Moscow mayor, announced on Twitter Friday that the trial would start on Oct. 9. The statement was confirmed by his press secretary.
A Russian courthouse in the town of Kirov set Navalny free in July, the day after he was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison. Navalny has appealed both the conviction and the sentence.
Many have interpreted the release as an effort to ensure that the Moscow mayoral elections appeared fair and competitive. Navalny performed unexpectedly well, snagging 27 percent of the vote.