Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has hailed an initiative by the Moscow branch of the United Russia party to help him receive enough signatures among municipal deputies in support of his candidacy for mayor of Moscow so he can become officially registered as a candidate.
Anyone who wants to be a candidate for mayor needs the signatures of at least 110 deputies to be able to pass what is called the "municipal filter" and run in the September 8 election.
Navalny has been put forward as the candidate of the Republican Party of Russia-Party of People's Freedom (RPR-PARNAS) coalition.
"United Russia has itself established this barrier and now, having realized that it hinders the public expression of will, is trying to remove it not just for me alone but for all the candidates. If the idea is to remove this barrier we can't be against it," Navalny told Interfax.
He said he met on Saturday with the chairman the Municipalities Association, Alexei Shaposhnikov, who had earlier told him about the initiative.
"That wonderful Irina Belykh was there too [and said] some of the United Russia deputies back Sobyanin's proposal and were ready to help all the candidates pass the municipal filter," Navalny said.
"We said to this that, naturally, we had no objection because in that sense deputies were not members of United Russia for us but just deputies," he said.
Navalny said that even before that he had been "phoning everyone, including United Russia members," in seeking to secure their signatures.
Earlier, Irina Belykh, one of the leaders of United Russia's Moscow branch, told reporters she met with Navalny on Saturday to discuss the United Russia initiative to help him pass the "municipal filter."
"Despite attacks against the party from Navalny, United Russia will help him pass the municipal filter so that the Muscovites have the maximum range of candidates at the mayoral election in Moscow," she said.
The mayoral polls will be part of nationwide local elections on September 8.
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