Russian court says Moscow mayoral poll result stands

A Russian court on Friday rejected an application by protest leader Alexei Navalny to cancel the results of Moscow mayoral polls after he challenged the Kremlin-backed incumbent and lost.

Navalny filed a lawsuit demanding that the results be ruled illegal after pro-Kremlin Sergei Sobyanin candidate narrowly avoided a run-off with 51.3 percent. He was sworn in just four days later.

Navalny, who finished in second place with 27.2 percent, claims that Sobyanin engaged in illegal campaigning, bribing elderly voters with food packages and rigging the vote on several polling stations.

His team argues that without the alleged rigging, Sobyanin would not have got the more than 50 percent of the vote required to avoid a run-off election.

The Moscow City Court rejected the suit, Russian news agencies reported.

Navalny said on his blog that the judge refused his requests to call witnesses and to see election documentation.

He said he would continue to seek to have the election result overturned through the district courts.

Russian leadership has praised the September 8 polls. Putin congratulated his ally Sobyanin last week in a lavish ceremony where the mayor also received the blessing of Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

Independent observers have said they registered irregularities, though not as widespread in the parliamentary polls of 2011 which prompted mass rallies in Russia.

Navalny still faces jail time over his embezzlement conviction in northern Kirov region. His appeal hearing has been scheduled for October 9 and he could go to prison for five years if it is rejected.