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The Prosecutor General's Office /PGO/ said on Monday it had found foreign sources among the sponsors of the election campaign of the candidate in Moscow's mayoral election from the RPR-PARNAS Party Alexei Navalny. However, head of Navalny's election headquarters Leonid Volkov stated that the Moscow Election Commission had been monitoring the candidates' election account and that it had not brought forward any claims.
Navalny denied the PGO statement on Live Journal alleging contributions from foreign natural persons and legal entities, the Novye Izvestia writes. According to Navalny, his funding is absolutely legal. "All the payments land on the settlement account at the Sberbank. The Moscow Election Commission checks them. If they tell us that a payment is illegal as the contributor's second name or birthdates or nationality is missing, we return the payment," Navalny wrote on his blog.
Member of the Central Election Commission from the Communist Party /KPRF/ Yevgeny Kolyushin, cited by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, confirmed that each transfer meant to fund the election campaign is under Commission members' scrutiny. There were no problems with Navalny, i.e. they could not find fault with him, he said.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta cited Leonid Volkov as saying that today Navalny's headquarters are using a perfectly legal system which enables the mayoral candidate to avoid accusations of foreign funding: The money is transferred to the election fund by Navalny's supporters, and contributions then come to their online accounts.
"This case cannot have any legal consequences. Everything was invented in order to run it on television," Navalny stated on Monday.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta explains that the exposed foreign sources might turn out to be not foreign at all. It referred to the press service of Yandex.Money where the candidate's electronic wallet is registered. Yandex insiders explained that transfers using foreign addresses might not necessarily be indicative of the giver's citizenship.
Head of the Regional Association of Voters Andrei Buzin said "sending incorrect transfers back is all Navalny's financiers are busy with now." He does not think that Navalny will be barred from the election.
In his opinion, an anti-Navalny campaign is underway. "From the legal point of view, they have nothing against him. There are no reasons to cancel his registration as a mayoral candidate or annul the election results if Navalny wins. Of course, there's a possibility to frame him in a criminal case over the use of election fund money which was transferred illegally," the expert said.
Head of the center for political information Alexei Mukhin believes that the foreign funding scandal will only boost Navalny's rating. "Now he is sure to get 20% of votes," he said.
The experts polled by the Izvestia - in replying to the question why the authorities are threatening the Opposition blogger with a new criminal case - suggested several versions. One of them has to do with Navalny's rating. The sources close to the Kremlin said that the decision to let Navalny run in the election was made because the presidential administration was confident that Navalny would only get 5% to 7% of votes. However, after the verdict by the Kirov court, his rating soared. According to the August 7 research data by the Synivate Comcon company, Navalny could gather 15% of votes if the election were to take place next Sunday.
Director General of the WCIOM public opinion study center Valery Fyodorov disagrees with the opinion that Navalny’s rating has increased. According to his information, the support for the Opposition member is far lower than Comcon claims. "Navalny's and Sobyanin's ratings have not moved /from 9 percent and 55 percent, respectively/. If they grow at all, it will happen in the last two weeks before the election," Fyodorov said.
In his view, the ongoing attack on Navalny aims to strip him of sources of funding. Navalny proved to his fundraisers that an election campaign can be managed with the money contributed by citizens, not large businesses which "toe the line." The authorities regard it as highly dangerous, as it is hardly possible to control individuals.
Putin urges to stop corruption and avoid tension in road construction
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday opened a highway bypassing the town of Odintsovo in the Moscow region, which will dub the Minsk Highway, and chaired a conference over the construction of the central beltway /TsKAD/, a major infrastructure project. All the attempts to overstate the construction costs should be stopped harshly, he demanded.
"By 2018, TsKAD should become a modern and convenient highway," the RBK Daily quoted the president as saying. He paid special attention to buying land plots. It's necessary to harshly stop any speculation and corruption schemes or the attempts to inflate the cost estimates and make profit on the quiet," the head of state said.
"The TsKAD toll charges should reasonable, not burdensome for citizens," he added.
The Kommersant notes that it follows from Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov's report that the bulk of funding for the construction of the ring road and other large infrastructure projects will come from the National Welfare Fund.
The other rapporteurs, including Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, said the project to build the toll road as part of the TsKAD had been thoroughly considered.
As of now, it is estimated to be worth 300 to 350 billion rubles, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta said, reminding that earlier the authorities had planned to complete the construction of the key TsKAD parts and finalize the ring road by 2020. But then a decision was made to step up the construction which increased project costs by almost 70 billion rubles.
The Rossiiskaya Gazeta reminds that at the Petersburg economic forum, the head of state had named TsKAD among the three largest infrastructure projects to be funded from the 450-billion-ruble National Welfare Fund. On Monday, he proposed to discuss the mechanisms of participation of the state and private investors, paying special attention to the purchase of land.
There are no estimates yet how much land has to be brought from owners under the quick purchase plan which the government used in Sochi. The Avtodor road construction company believes some 606 land plots have to be alienated in the north and northeastern areas. On Monday, Putin demanded that the process be as transparent as possible and not cause social tension in the society. The authorities do not intend to make exceptions in coming to terms with owners of large land plots.