Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by AKarlin, Jul 29, 2013.
Khodorkovsky’s guiding hand in the works?
From today’s (7th August 2013) Vedomosti:
Navalny’s 35 friends
Thirty-five representatives of the internet business are to speak publicly in support of the candidate for post of Moscow mayor, Alexei Navalny. This is a precedent, as “equidistanced oligarch” businesses used not to openly try to support the opposition.
A group of 35 Internet entrepreneurs has launched a manifesto in support of Navalny. “Instead of voting from our hearts, we have made a socio-political contract”, they wrote. “Our support is not an act of charity. We expect the protection of the rule of law off Navalny, support for independent courts, and real accountability of public officials. For our part, we will support Navalny’s policy by means of our reputation and our financial, organizational and other resources.”
“The Contract” has been signed signed by the founders/owners/top managers of, amongst others: the internet-shop “Vikimart” (Camille Kurmakaev and Maxim Faldin); the discount service Groupon and the educational portal Eduson.tv (Elena Masolova); HeadHunter.ru (Yuri Virovets); the publishing house “Mann, Ivanov and Ferber” (Mikhail Ivanov); the polling site Votepoller ValentinPreobrazhensky); and Sports.ru (Dmitry Navosha).
Kurmakaev told “Vedomosti” that two weeks ago, businessmen met Navalny in order to discuss how they could help. From this was born the idea of a social contract for new businesses and new policies. “It is often said that business should be kept out of politics, but we consider this a position of cowardice and hypocrisy. It is time to recognize that politics has a direct impact on business. We have joined together in order to be represented politically, part of our work being direct social responsibility”, stated the manifesto.
The draft document was circulated to several dozen businesses, all of them representatives of the “new economy”, said Kurmakaev. There were refusals to participate: some said they did not care about politics, and some that they support Sergei Sobyanin; some that they were afraid of the challenges involved.
“Navalny is removing a barrier to the growth of the economy: corruption, which increases 3-5% annually”, explained Preobrazhensky as regards his decision to join the contract. “Being afraid of problems when doing business is acting too late: doing business in itself has become a problem. It’s time to decide”, he said. “It is stupid doing something with our companies because of the retaliation that will come from the authorities: we are not giants; we are not Yukos”, said Masolova. “But keeping quiet about this is even sillier. The authorities deal with companies from a position of power and remaining quiet shows our weakness.”
All signatories of the manifesto have been made as individuals, stresses Kurmakaev, donations to the election fund from entrepreneurs have also made as physical persons. Russian businesses are not very willing to make donations as legal entities to anyone, except to the All-Russia People’s Front, one businessman admits
Navalny has not yet received any donations to the electoral fund from legal entities, confirmed Leonid Volkov, the candidate’s election chief of staff. According to him, in addition to financial support from entrepreneurs that appear on the list, they advise staff on management issues, help with IT-infrastructure, and some work with the “Agitation Cube”. “The important thing is that the support is open”, concluded Volkov.
In May 2012 a group of 16 businessmen and intellectuals publicly stated their financial support of the Navalny Fund to combat corruption. Two of them, the former rector of the New Economic School, Sergei Guriev, and his wife, the economist Catherine Zhuravskaya, subsequently left Russia for fear of prosecution.
“Open support for the opposition has been given by small businesses, which is a completely new situation”, said Vyacheslav Igrunov, the deputy of the State Duma until 2003. Following the equi-distancing of the oligarchs and the Yukos affair, big business has only helped those parties that were put forward by the Kremlin. They would not risk not doing that now: too much is at stake. But small and medium businesses are apparently so fed up with the present system that they are ready to take such steps”, concludes Igrunov.
I wonder if these Russian small businessmen have heard of the so-called trickle-down effect? That’s the guff businessmen sell in the UK.
You know the argument: a few get a lot of money because businesses thrive and become more and more profitable and part of the profits trickle down to the proles.
And no, of course not! There is no “creative accounting” whereby profits are stashed away off-shore. The very thought!
Sobyanin’s rating grows: VTsIOM: Sergei Sobyanin’s rating continues to grow.
Sergei Sobyanin’s rating increased over the last week of July by 1%. According to survey polls at the beginning of August, in the September elections 55% of the respondents are ready to vote for the Acting Mayor of Moscow (a week ago, this figure was 54%). However, his nearest opponent, blogger Alexei Navalny, has maintained his share of supporters: as of a week ago, only 9% of Muscovites are ready to vote for him.
From today’s RT: “Kremlin man v opposition blogger: Moscow mayor election campaign in full swing”
“Have you ever been to Paris? That’s what we want! Boulevards, green everywhere, look here for two months they have been putting down tiles! Bike paths, our plans for traffic will be like the rest of the world, not like Sobyanin.”
Ask a Moscow pensioner if he’s ever been to Paris.
No traffic jams “like the rest of the world”?
Again, the rantings of a bourgeois idiot who dreams of the fairy-tale “rest of the world” where everything is so much better than in Russia.
The news this morning is full of stories about the alleged illegal funding of Navalny's campaign from abroad and by anonymous donors. It is being suggested that the Procurator General's Office has pronounced that Navalny's campaign is being illegally funded. I understand that Navalny in turn is accusing the Procurator General's Office of lying. Yandex for their part are saying that there have been no enquiries with them from the Procurator General's Office.
I feel it would be wrong at this stage to jump to any conclusions. Zhirinovsky has brought a complaint. As I cannot speak Russian I can only read the Procurator General's Office pronouncement on this complaint in machine translation. However my impression is that what the Procurator General's Office has said is that there is sufficient evidence in support of Zhirinovsky's complaint to refer it for investigation to the Interior Ministry to see whether a crime has been actually committed.
As I understand it since 2011 the Procurator General's Office no longer conducts investigations and has lost its former investigative function to the Investigative Committee and the Interior Ministry. As such all that the Procurator General's Office is saying is that there is a case to look into. It will be the Interior Ministry that will investigate the case by contacting Yandex etc. A report will then be made to the Procurator General's Office and only then will a final decision be made whether a crime has actually been committed that ought to be referred for prosecution.
I can't imagine that this process will be completed before the election on 8th September 2013.
I would make two brief observations:
1. It is by no means unusual in election races for allegations about improper funding to be made in order to damage a candidate's chances. This is common enough in Greece and it happens in Britain as well. It would not surprise me if this is what is behind these allegations. The fact that Zhirinovsky has made this complaint shortly before the television debates may be a sign that he has done this in order to put Navalny on the defensive in those debates.
2. If Navalny really has been accepting illegal campaign donations then it looks reckless. If so then I am afraid it reinforces the impression I have gained of Navalny that he is one of those people who believes rules apply to everyone except himself.
I care neither for nor about Navalny, but I really wish they'd stop hounding him like this. It really doesn't matter how much money he gets, or where he gets it from, he'll never beat Sobyanin. If they just let him do his thing the whole campaign will just fizzle out. Bringing one after the other law enforcement actions only garners attention and galvanizes his supporters.
In general, I agree with what AK wrote at the beginning of this thread - the more votes Navalny gets the better. Bringing the non-systemic opposition into the fold is really the best way to neutralize them. Only then will they realize what little support they have among the general public. I say this is as a resident of Moscow (though not a Russian citizen) who is very happy with Sobyanin's performance. Admittedly, I think anyone would have been an improvement after Luzhok.
I think this takes it too far in the other direction. Navalny is very free in making allegations of this sort against others. It's only natural they respond by making similar allegations against him. I say this on the assumption that the allegations of illegal campaign funding which have been made against him are untrue. That however remains to be seen. Politics as we say in England is a dirty old trade and if one is going to practise it one has to be prepared to take some mud, especially when one is so free in throwing it about oneself.
I should add that I very much doubt that there is any realistic possibility of Navalny being excluded from the election at this late stage. As for the government's or at least Sobyanin's policy viz Navalny's election bid, we know what it is: it is to do everything possible to ensure that Navalny persists with it. Remember it was Sobyanin who made it possible for Navalny to stand by getting UR councillors to nominate him and it was Sobyanin not Navalny who initially rejected the idea of Navalny pulling out of the election after Navalny was convicted.
For the rest I am afraid I don't agree with the theory that Navalny winning more votes is going to make the White Ribbon Opposition better housetrained or that it is more likely to assimilate them in the political system. I am afraid the simple reality is that these people are committed to a revolutionary programme and nothing that is going to happen in this election is going to make them change it.
They may be committed to a revolutionary program but they are revolutionaries like I'm a ballerina. Revolutionaries don't take a break from the revolution to go sun themselves on the beaches of Bali and the Seychelles. For this reason, they would be easily placated by participation in the political process. They are among the easiest to brainwash and manipulate, antagonizing them may be fun but I see it as counterproductive.
Navalny has violated the informal arrangements
“Izvestia” sources talk about the background of the Prosecutor General Office attack upon the opposition leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky is known to have asked the prosecutor’s office the other day to check the sources of Alexei Navalny’s campaign funding. The Liberal Democrat opposition leader suspects about 20 million rubles have been raised, including money received from abroad. The Prosecutor General’s Office has confirmed that some of the money was transferred on the internet by Navalny’s associates using foreign IP-addresses.
“Through the electronic payment system ‘Yandex.Money’ more than 300 foreign legal entities and individuals, as well as anonymous donors from 46 countries (including the United States, Finland, the UK, Switzerland and Canada) using 347 IP-addresses have transferred to Navalney’s electronic wallet as well as to those of his campaign staff N.N. Lyaskina, K.S. Jankauskas and V.L. Ashurkova money for the Alexander Navalny’s election campaign as candidate for mayor of Moscow”, said Minister Yuri Chaika.
Since the law prohibits the anonymous and foreign funding of political activity, the investigation results were sent to the Interior Ministry in order to determine whether a criminal charge be made.
Navalny himself responded by indicating that the foreign IP-addresses of senders does not say anything about their citizenship. A similar opinion was expressed by the ‘Yandex.Money’ press service:
“We cannot understand by what parameters the Prosecutor General’s Office drew the conclusion that foreigners are involved … For example, if you are on holiday in Italy and are sending money from there, you still remain a Russian citizen: the ruble transfer is considered to be a domestic one.
“Be that as it may, having become involved in a matter involving the foreign funding of Navalny’s campaign, the Prosecutor General will see the matter through to the very end, namely in court”, said a Kremlin source. But Navalny will not be granted such a gift as being withdrawn from the election: that, according to the source, would not be in Sergei Sobyanin’s interests, who has already done much so as to ensure that his opponent will be able participate in the elections.
Nevertheless, there await for Navalny complex and quite serious problems. According to what law enforcement agencies source has told “Izvestia”, quite soon Navalny may well be prosecuted as regards matters concerning his election funding. A source close to the presidential administration has suggested that a case will be announced either when Navalny reveals a fund of unwelcome information for the authorities (such as the campaigns concerning Sobyanin’s daughter’s apartment) or if his rating increases too much.
Those that are closely supportive of Navalny and who provide links to their own “sociological service” are already talking about 18-percent of voters supporting their candidate, although at the moment this is just propaganda. “At his election headquarters, Navalny has no skills whatsoever and no experience in the use of sociological tools”, the deputy director of the “Levada Centre”, Alexei Grazhdankin. “[Head of Staff Leonid] Volkov has posted some data that differs significantly from the results of sociological research.” Nevertheless, the Kremlin seriously refers to the possibility of an increase in the opposition rating.
In answering the question of why the authorities have demanded that the blogger be threatened with another criminal case, experts interviewed by “Izvestia” put forward three possible reasons, and only one of them being concerned with Navalny’s rating. Those close to the Kremlin said that the decision to allow Navalny take part in the elections was arrived at because the presidential administration was convinced that he would only pick up something like 5-7% of the vote. However, after the verdict in Kirov, his rating went up beyond these limits. According to the research made by the firm Synovate Comcon on August 7, if elections had been held on the Sunday following the verdict, Alexey Navalny could have got 15% of the vote.
“The authorities were counting on a Navalny suffering a “blistering” loss such as that which Evgeniya Chirikova experienced at the Khimki mayoral election, when she was unable to achieve a significant result” (In her hometown she scored 17.5% against 48% for United Russia Oleg Yadav. – “Izvestia”), argues the Director of the Centre for Political Studies at the University of Finance, directed by Pavel Salin. “She’s lost in quite a fair campaign and since then has generally disappeared from view. The same was calculated to happen to Navalny. However, judging by recent events, his rating is apparently now being measured in double digits. So there was launched an information war, whose purpose is to make Navalny move from attack to defence, and to force him to start making excuses.
Valery Fyodorov, the general director of the VTsIOM polling organization, does not agree with this version of events, namely that Navalny’s ratings are growing. According to him, the opposition support is much lower than that claimed by Comcon:
“Navalny’s and Sobyanin’s ratings are still at the same position (9% and 55%, respectively – “Izvestia”). If there is an increase in ratings, it’ll be during the last two weeks before the election.”
Fedorov believes that the current attack on Navalny is aimed at denying his sources of funding.
“Navalny has proved with his fundraising that it is possible to campaign using money donated by citizens, and not by big business. This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed and it is extremely dangerous for the government, for control of the individual is virtually impossible. It’s like the situation with Barack Obama: a small payment, but many willing to pay. And this is a danger predicament: the risk creating politicians having uncontrollable power”, says the VTsIOM CEO.
Another version that has been put forward is that made by the proponents of the “different towers of the Kremlin” theory. The first Vice-President of the Centre for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin, believes that there has now begun a new round of fighting between supporters of hard and soft policies.
“There is both a minimum program and a maximum program in order that the elections be held fairly and Navalny loses. The maximum program: that he takes his place and doesn’t rock the boat. The decision whether he take part in the election will be made in the Kremlin. And was already the case when he was arrested. No wonder then that he was released by the prosecutor’s office and now he’s being accused of new violations”, said Makarkin.
The reason why the story of the funding was chosen as an instrument of pressure on the opposition and not, for example, that of “Kirovles” is obvious: Vladimir Putin, having expressed his surprise that the one of those involved in the case (the director of “Kirovlesa”, Opalev) received a suspended sentence, whilst the other (Navalny) was given a custodial one, in fact cancelled the possibility of threatening Navalny with the “Kirovles” affair. It has now been given to the oppositionist to understand that it is not allowed to break the unofficial rules of that game that has helped him. In particular, say the sources, the authorities now realize that Navalny has begun work amongst those voters that do not belong to him: the pensioners and public sector employees. Naturally, team Sobyanin will undertake all the necessary steps so that the blogger returns to his network of supporters.
End of translation
Navalny says that when he becomes president, he’ll shut “Izvestia” down.
Judging by the above article, “Izvestia” might already have started running scared.
I agree with much that you say. These people are not real revolutionaries. They play at revolution rather than being serious about it. However that doesn't mean that they can be appeased or won over. If one thing has become clear to me over the last 10 years it is that trying to do so is a total waste of time. Quite apart from anything else they have such a phenomenal sense of entitlement that they will not thank Putin or "the power" for giving them a little when they are convinced they should be given it all. The fact these people are self indulgent and incompetent doesn't mean they are reasonable or that they can be reasoned with. It was Medvedev's mistake to think that and it didn't do him any good.
The latest breaking stories are about corruption accusations and counter-accusations.
According to Navalny's blog (with links to docs), the Sobyanin family has 1 2 3 elite apartments in Moscow and St.-Petersburg. In total they are worth several million dollars and it is conceivable that a life-long civil servant like Sobyanin could have accumulated the funds to buy them outright. The apartment in Moscow was apparently a government building that was privatized by Sobyanin. Apparently this is a very common occurence within the Russian bureaucracy: The Presidential property fund builds these buildings, civil servants (mayors, deputies, etc) are later allowed to privatize them quietly on the side.
Ironically, Mikhail Kasyanov (of "Misha 2%" fame) also has an apartment, even more luxurious, in the same building, which he privatized in 2004 while he was Prime Minister. Needless to say, that has drawn far less attention in the liberal and Western media than Sobyanin's plunders.
Sobyanin's elder daughter also appears to have gotten very rich while working as a manger at a furniture fitting company - she has an apartment in SPB that costs a couple of millions. This company happens to have won several no-bid contracts to refurbish buildings in Tyumen (where Sobyanin previously worked) and Moscow. Amusingly, one of those refurbished buildings belonged to a Defense Ministry building that happened to be privatized by Serdyukov's harem and is now under the rubric of the corruption investigations around Oboronservis.
Navalny at the hustings and mobbed by his supporters:
Note the preponderance of elderly persons that have taken seats.
Those old folks must really love the Chosen One.
Perish the thought, but I wonder if there was any remuneration on hand for their attendance?
I occasionally pass hamsters at metro station entrances, where they stand rather forlornly, proffering a Navalny election bulletin to passers-by. Nobody seems to take a blind bit of notice of them and to date I've never seen anyone accept the printed material off them.
To be fair though, the same applies to Sobyanin campaigners, who stand around Moscow doing the same thing. On the other hand, at metro stations Muscovites always seem more than willing to grab the free Metro publication entitled "Metro", but what else can one expect off the dullard bydlo?
@MarkPavelovich's doom approaches, slowly but inexorably.
I've been wondering where Levada has been in this election.
It seems to me that Levada's results for Navalny are almost exactly in line with VTsIOM's. Navalny gets 10% of all respondents in the Levada poll whilst he got slightly more (11%) in the latest VTsIOM poll. This compares with the 9% of total respondents Navalny was getting according to VTsIOM at the beginning of August. All these results are well within the margin of error.
The simple truth is that over the course of the election campaign Navalny's actual ratings have hardly shifted. As I understand it Levada gives Navalny 18% of those who have definitely made up their minds and who will definitely vote and 16% of those who are still undecided but who will probably vote, which is rather more than VTsIOM's latest forecast, which puts Navalny's probable final rating come the actual election at 13-15%. However given the margin of error and the low overall rating the difference is hardly significant and the numbers from both VTsIOM and Levada do not for the moment point to a second round, which if it happens will be an upset.
Navalny also has by a fair margin the most negative numbers of any candidate.
For those who support Melnikov, his rating of those who definitely say the will vote is put by Levada at 12%. Were Levichev to withdraw as he has spoken of doing and were all Levichev's vote to switch to Melnikov (admittedly very unlikely - some might abstain, some might go to Sobyanin and some might actually go to Navalny) Melnikov would draw level with Navalny. Since Melnikov carries fewer negatives than Navalny or indeed Degtyarev it is just conceivable on these figures that he might draw level with Navalny or even overtake Navalny but the time for that is running out and I have to say it looks to me unlikely.
Overall, my assessment so far is that this has been a completely lacklustre campaign. Sobyanin may be an outstanding manager and is beyond question the best qualified candidate to run Moscow but he has all the charisma of a paper cup. Whatever one might think of Luzhkov, he was an immeasurably more skilful and effective politician than Sobyanin, who seems to be less of a politician and more of a functionary. Navalny has run a poor campaign and has so far failed to break through. If Navalny's support in Moscow of all places is in the range of 10-18% (as both VTsIOM and Levada say) then he is doing no better than Chirikova did in Khimki and his support in the country as a whole can be at best in the low single figures. Those like Fred Weir who during the Presidential election were saying that Navalny was the only candidate who might have posed a serious challenge to Putin at the moment look like fantasists imagining a Russia which doesn't exist.
As for the other candidates, Levichev is an also ran, Degtyarev is an intelligent clown and Mitrokhin in Russia's most liberal city has been a dismal disappointment. In a clear field Melnikov might have been a more effective challenger but at 63 he is old and is frankly rather unexciting.
I suspect that when all the votes are cast and this election is over and done with the likely result will show that Navalny's campaign, like white ribbon opposition campaigns generally, has been nothing more than a gigantic distraction, which has prevented a real challenge from coalescing against the government candidate who in this case happens to be Sobyanin. Out of a very weak field that might have happened around Melnikov or in Navalny's absence someone else. Given Sobyanin's lack of charisma in the event that he had been faced by a real challenge he might have been vulnerable.
The dynamics of this election might also have been very different if Prokhorov had stood but though I suspect his ceiling is substantially higher than Navalny's as a billionaire oligarch the negatives against him must also be very strong, which might have prevented him from winning against Sobyanin even if he had been able to force a second round.
"Kremlin predicts Navalny second in the election of the mayor of Moscow" says KYRS.
So? Who ever believed he wouldn't be?
Saying Navalny will come second is like saying the loser in a boxing match will come second.
There's no prize for second place in this game: it'll be a knock-out in the first round.
"The Kremlin believes that on the September 8 election of the Moscow mayor opposition blogger Alexei Navalny can count on the support of 22% of the capital's inhabitants. This data was based on the monitoring of social networks, the newspaper "Izvestia" has reported, referring to an expert
close to the presidential administration.
"Kremlin sociologists have monitored leading social network platforms vKontakte, Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal and Tumblr. Using their analysis of the blogosphere, experts say that Sergei Sobyaninka's rating is falling, whilst the performance of Alexei Navalny is growing. Because of the impact of active Internet users' mood and Alexei Navalny's support on the blogosphere, the real rating of the candidate on the day of voting can reach 22% at best."
End of Translation
(Here's the original Izvestia article that the above linked site reports: Кремль оценивает шансы Навального выше, чем социологи.)
Interesting that! So how about analysing the opinions of those that do not Twitter each other about the coming election or use Facebook or vKontakte etc. to do so, namely the bydlo?
Those that endlessly send messages on social networks are, I should imagine, bourgeois types that form Navalny's core support - students and Western-Yuppie-Wannabes who think Russia is a shithole.
I have often suspected that the huge differences between the numbers that "opposition" leaders claim have attended their marches "of a million" and the figures given by independent observers and the cops are the result of "oppositionists" giving reporters those numbers of hamsters and assorted "anti-regime" minded members of the "protest community" who have informed them over the "social network" that they will attend a demonstration.
In my opinion, asking Twitterers who they will vote for is like posing the same question to members of the Navalny election staff headquarters.
I wonder how much a Moscow-Vancouver return flight costs?
I should very much like to watch this car wash.
Voyeur. These are not election results, but polls of who would vote for who or what this one or that one thinks this candidate or that will get. Navalny reckoned he had spoken to around 1% of Muscovites, and it would be a stretch to imagine everyone who had heard Navalny speak would vote for him. Navalny 18%?? Really? When Boris Nemtsov, who was much better-known and who spent most of a year campaigning couldn't break the 5% threshold for seats in the Duma? I realize that's not the same thing and that Navalny is competing in only one city - and the most liberal in Russia at that - but I still don't see him breaking 10%.
Besides, in the highly-unlikely event I lose, you would have to fly to California; I can't imagine Anatoly would drive all the way to Victoria (not Vancouver, Vancouver is about 2 hours away by ferry, I live on Vancouver Island) just to get his car washed. I would have to go there.
The Moscow Times has started to pull out all the stops now as the Moscow mayoral election day looms ever closer.
In today's issue there is an opinion piece entitled: "The Battle for Moscow", in which its author claims that the "outcome of Moscow's mayoral election campaign concerns every Russian — and everyone who is interested in the country's fate".
There then follows the usual guff about the chosen one:
"Navalny was registered as a candidate in the election and joined the campaign a day after being released from jail, following his conviction and five-year prison sentence in a clearly fabricated case."
No reasons given, of course, why the author believes the case was "fabricated".
And it is clear that the author is clueless as regards the due process of Russian law:
"Why the government first imprisoned him and then released him less than 24 hours later remains a mystery..."
Clue: when appealing conviction, you cannot be convicted - something that Navalny's wonderful defence counsel seemed blissfully unaware of, not to mention the judge; also, Navalny was not tried by the government, he was tried by the Kirov Criminal Court.
The author goes on:
"Denied access to television, Navalny has carried out a U.S.-style door-to-door campaign. He has enlisted an unprecedented 15,000 volunteers and has raised an unprecedented $1.5 million from a diverse group of 8,000 Russians to finance his campaign.
Navalny's volunteers not only promote his message through social media. They also distribute his program and talk to voters in Moscow's streets and metro. Most impressive and completely unheard of in Russia, Navalny himself organizes three street rallies every weekday and five rallies on Saturdays and Sundays. His goal is to hold 100 such rallies by the end of the campaign."
Clearly the author has not seen one of these wondrous street assemblies. (See photograph above posted earlier.)
The author then concedes that Navalny is not without blemish:
"To be sure, there are still many reasons to be worried. Navalny certainly is not perfect..."
Yes, there do seem to be more than a few skeletons in Navalny's cupboard.
But then he states that:
"although the Moscow election may be competitive by Russian standards, it is still outrageously unfair in terms of media access, financing and voter intimidation..."
Well, if you say so, then it goes without saying - doesn't it?
Oh, what a surprise: the author is a former rector at the New Economic School in Moscow
In this instance, I find I can again point to the Putin interview,
because he was asked about the Moscow mayoral elections - in a question which established to the questioner's satisfaction that polls indicate the vote is expected to be rigged - and gave Sobyanin a solid endorsement which ackowledged that while he may appear to be uncharismatic in person, he prefers to be doing things rather than spending all his time bullshitting. In the same breath he points out that Navalny must be squeaky-clean if he is to have any credibility on fighting corruption and he is not, while saying in so many words that Navalny simply plays the anti-corruption card to get votes, but does not have any real plan for doing anything about it. He neatly defuses all the vote-for-Navalny-the-Kremlin-is-scared-shitless-of-him hype by saying the government will work with whoever is elected, full stop, although the successful candidate is expected to act constructively. His positions on the matter of the election are going to be hard to spin, although I'm sure the Moscow Times will try.
Separate names with a comma.