The opposition politician Alexei Navalny launched his campaign to be elected mayor of Moscow on Monday, but he could end up being sent to prison before the September vote.
Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption blogger whom much of the opposition believes is their most promising and charismatic hope for the future. He is currently standing trial on charges of embezzlement that have been widely labelled as politically motivated.
Moscow will elect a mayor on 8 September after the incumbent Sergei Sobyanin called a surprise vote two years early. With control of the media, and a large support base, he is expected to win comfortably, and analysts have speculated that the early vote could have been set to ensure a victory now rather than risk an unpredictable political climate in two years time.
Mr Navalny, however, said he would win “any fair elections” and insisted that his programme would “make Moscow an even better city” than it already is.
“We are different from the people who sit in offices at 13 Tverskaya [the mayoralty] and the Kremlin,” said Mr Navalny during his campaign launch. “Their only goal is to get money to build a house in Spain, send their children to school in Switzerland, and at the same time pass laws to supposedly increase patriotism.”
Mr Navalny’s court case resumes after a break today in the city of Kirov. If he is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.