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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Sails Home in Capital

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov swept to victory in the mayoral election, proving that even though his national image has suffered his popularity among Muscovites remains high.

With the ballots counted at 90 percent of the city's polling stations Monday afternoon, Luzhkov was ahead with 71.53 percent of the vote, leaving all eight challengers far behind him.

His closest opponent, Sergei Kiriyenko, the leader of the Union of Right Forces, which did remarkably well in the parliamentary election, had 11.36 percent.

Pavel Borodin, the head of the Kremlin's property management office, was third with 6.8 percent of the vote. Borodin said Monday that he plans to challenge the results in court, ORT television reported. Luzhkov, responding on NTV television, said Borodin's challenge was "not serious."

Luzhkov fell short of his 1996 win, when he ran virtually unopposed and took nearly 90 percent of the vote. But it was still a highly respectable showing considering the Kremlin's efforts to disgrace him.

"I would like to thank Muscovites for such massive support," Luzhkov said Monday on NTV.

Shown on television just hours after the voting ended Sunday night in Moscow, Luzhkov displayed little of the pleasure of victory. He was visibly upset by the relatively poor performance of his Fatherland-All Russia bloc in the parliamentary elections.

During the past three months, Luzhkov and his ally former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov have been the target of a smear campaign conducted by pro-Kremlin television.

The attacks appear to have been effective. Fatherland-All Russia, once seen as capable of challenging the Communist Party, ended up third after the Communists and the pro-Kremlin bloc Unity.

Earlier this year, Luzhkov's allies announced that he planned to run a modest mayoral campaign, while focusing all his efforts on the parliamentary elections.

In Moscow, few campaign ads concentrated on the mayoral race, instead urging Muscovites to vote in both elections Sunday.

Kiriyenko, Luzhkov's main rival, supports Primakov and has Kremlin backing. He is widely acknowledged as having run a good mayoral campaign.

The mayor promised to look into Kiriyenko's proposed program, NTV reported.

Last Friday, Luzhkov, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio, said the Fatherland-All Russia faction in the new State Duma would support Putin if he presents "a clear-cut economic program."

Luzhkov, 63, has been mayor since 1992. A populist, he boasts of being a good manager who can get things done. He has won wide support among Muscovites by improving city roads and carrying out ambitious construction projects. He has also boosted pensions in the city and introduced free travel on public transport for pensioners.