Kremlin critic Navalny faces challenges winning over Moscow voters

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Kremlin critic Navalny faces challenges winning over Moscow voters

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Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has returned to Moscow to a hero’s welcome after his release on bail by a courthouse in Kirov. He is facing embezzlement charges, which he denies.

Navalny, a vocal Kremlin critic, is running for Moscow mayor against incumbent Sergey Sobyanin. An independent poll in June suggested Navalny had around 8 percent of support.

Some analysts he could be heading for a surge in popularity, but many Muscovites have doubts about how far he could go politically.

Metro employee Viktor Mikhailovich warned, “They may remove Navalny like they did Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but he’s already more popular than Khodorkovsky. He has ordinary people behind him, not oligarghs.”

Sergei, a student in the capital, said Navalny’s appeal was not wide enough, explaining: “He needs to become more neutral, listen to people who live in the city, and not follow the interests of some opposition minority.”
“He needs to become neutral and listen to people who live in the city, not to follow the interests of some opposition minority.”

Some of Navalny’s supporters believe the Russian authorities may have released him on bail in an effort to legitimise the Moscow mayoral race and Sobyanin’s likely victory.