MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Public Opinion Research Center /WCIOM/ said, if Moscow mayoral elections took place next Sunday, 9% of Muscovites would vote for Opposition candidate Alexei Navalny.
Navalny is the second most popular candidate, but the rating of acting mayor Sergei Sobyanin exceeds Navalny's by six times at 54%.
Whereas in the beginning of July, 71% of Moscow residents knew about Navalny, the number has grown to 80%.
Experts note, however, that his popularity increases along with mistrust in him. During the July 9-10 poll, 14% of Muscovites had a positive opinion of him, while 33% mistrusted him. In ten days, the figure has increased to 39%, while the number of respondents with positive opinions reached only 17%.
The rating of Communist candidate Ivan Melnikov has increased from 2 to 4%. Melnikov now leads over Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin, whose rating dropped from 3 to 2% in the past ten days, WCIOM said.
1,200 people took part in the poll; the margin of error did not exceed 3.9%.
On July 18, the Lenin district court of Kirov has sentenced Navalny to a five year penal colony term, finding him guilty of Kirovles property misuse. He is also fined 500,000 roubles. Former director of the Vyatka Timber Company Pyotr Ofitserov is sentenced to four years in prison within the same case, and fined 500,000 roubles.
Navalny and Ofitserov were taken in custody in the courtroom.
Earlier, the Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass that Navalny, during him being an advisor to the Kirov region governor, "arranged the theft of Kirovles company property by entering in collusion with Vyatka Timber Company director Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles Director General Vyacheslav Opalev."
The Investigative Committee believes that more than 10,000 cubic meters of timber were stolen from May through September 2009, causing 16-million-rouble losses to the regional budget.
On December 24, 2012, Kirov's Lenin district court gave Opalev a four-year suspended sentence with three-year probation. Opalev had pleaded guilty and signed a plea bargain agreement. Navalny and Ofitserov denied allegations. The former insisted that ex-Kirovles director Vyacheslav Opalev had slandered him.
The Kirovles case was opened in May 2011. Meanwhile, on December 20, 2012, the Investigative Committee charged Navalny and his brother Oleg with fraud and money-laundering in the so-called "Mail Case," where Navalny's firm Main Subscription Agency was accused of a kickback scheme through mail delivery at overstated prices.
According to the investigator, Yves Rocher Vostok was tricked into signing a contract with a firm to ship goods from Yaroslavl to Moscow. In reality, shipments were performed by another company. The market price of transportation did not exceed 31 million roubles, but more than 55 million roubles were transferred to the account of the Main Subscription Agency for alleged delivery services.
In April 2013, the case was pooled with a new case opened after a report by the Director General of the multi-profile processing company. The company had to use intermediary's services which led to 3.8 million roubles losses, the Investigative Committee said.
Navalny is also a suspect in two other criminal cases: in December 2011, the Investigative Committee initiated criminal proceedings over 100-million-rouble theft. The funds were transferred by the Union of Right Wing Forces to Navalny's Allect company for rendering advertising services in 2007. Records for this criminal case were obtained during the probe into the Kirovles fraud.
The Investigative Committee also checked Navalny for involvement in the theft of a 25.5% stake in the Urzhum distillery. Navalny and accomplices tried to secure a place on the board of directors of this company.
Meanwhile, Kirov region prosecutor contested the court's ruling of July 18 to put Navalny in custody, insisting that he may remain on recognizance before the verdict comes into force. On July 19, the Kirov region court allowed the prosecutor's appeal and set Navalny and Ofitserov free on a pledge not to leave town.