Pro-Kremlin candidates suffered major losses in a Moscow city election, results showed on Monday, following a police crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests over the summer.
But President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down the losses, pointing to other local and regional elections across Russia on Sunday in which the ruling party was “very successful”.
Demonstrations broke out in the capital after top opposition figures were barred from standing in the city vote, but they widened in scope after a harsh response from authorities.
Kremlin-backed candidates previously held 38 of the Moscow Assembly’s 45 seats, but after voting that was down to 25.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who called the summer protests after his allies were kept off the ballot paper, put the losses down to his “Smart Voting” plan. “We fought for this together,” Mr. Navalny said on Twitter.
The campaign called on Muscovites to back the politician most likely to beat a pro-Kremlin candidate, whatever their affiliation.
The beneficiaries were the Communist Party — which took 13 seats, up from five — as well as the liberal Yabloko party and the left-leaning Just Russia, which each won three. The shake-up in the city Parliament comes amid a stagnating economy and a fall in Mr. Putin’s approval ratings.
Lyubov Sobol, who emerged as a protest leader after she was barred from contesting, said the vote would go “down in history, thanks to the perseverance of Muscovites, and the cowardice and meanness” of the city administration.