MOSCOW: Kremlin-backed Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin is set to win crucial elections in the Russian capital with a majority in the first round but top opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to garner a relatively strong 18 percent, a poll showed on Monday.
Fifty eight percent of those who said they planned to vote in Moscow mayoral elections on Sunday and have decided on their candidate, said they would support the current incumbent, said a poll by independent pollster Levada Center.
The result means that the Kremlin-backed candidate would win the polls in the first round.
Sixty one percent of those polled said they expected Sobyanin to receive more than 50 percent of votes and win in the first round, while 15 percent said they expected a second vote.
Navalny, who emerged as the leader of the Russian opposition movement during unprecedented protests against Vladimir Putin in winter 2011, has vowed to force the polls into a run-off.
Sobyanin, who is a close ally of Putin, previously served as Kremlin chief of staff under the Russian strongman. He was appointed as mayor in 2010.
According to the poll of 1,000 on August 27-30, Navalny would come second with 18 percent, while Ivan Melnikov of the Communist Party will gain 12 percent and liberal opposition candidate Sergei Mitrokhin 6 percent.
Nikolai Levichev, a candidate from Kremlin-friendly A Just Russia party will get 4 percent and Mikhail Degtyaryov of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party will poll just 2 percent.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.