Putin ally re-elected Moscow mayor amid mass arrests

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally has been overwhelmingly re-elected Moscow’s mayor, officials said yesterday, following a poll overshadowed by pension protests and mass arrests.

However, the ruling party received a major blow in several regions as Russians voted to elect governors and local lawmakers in a nationwide day of polls on Sunday.

The United Russia party recorded its worst performance in regional elections in more than a decade as voters registered their anger over a controversial reform set to raise the state pension age and worsening economic conditions under Western sanctions.

Election day was marred by the arrests during nationwide protests against the hugely unpopular pension reform, with more than 1,000 detained, according to an independent monitor.

Putin sought to put on a brave face, saying the election results underscored Russians’ trust in the authorities.

“On the whole the election campaign was conducted decently, with a pretty high voter turnout,” Putin told officials in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Sergei Sobyanin, mayor of the Russian capital since 2010, won a predictable victory with 70.02 per cent of the vote.

Turnout stood at 30.8 per cent.

Russian police officers push a teenager during a rally in St Petersburg, Russia. – AP