Navalny Won't Participate in Future Debates

A Navalny campaign banner being carried along one of Moscow's streets. Maxim Stulov

Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny has announced that he will not participate in the next rounds of mayoral debates, both televised and on the radio.

The Navalny campaign criticized the decision by television channel Moskva-Doverie to air the debate at 8 a.m., Interfax reported.

Last week Navalny, the RPR-Parnas candidate, participated in three debates against others challenging acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin in the Sept. 8 mayoral elections. The debates, held on Moskva 24, were broadcast live at 9 p.m.

On his LiveJournal blog Navalny wrote that showing televised debates at early hours "was a strategy to waste candidates' time" and that his campaign wanted "to use time rationally."

Navalny also will not participate in this week's evening radio debates held on Moskva FM or the Govorit Moskva radio debates in September.

Navalny may be taking a page out of the playbook of Sobyanin, who has refused to take part in the debates with the other candidates. "Frivolous debates are not for him," Sobyanin's campaign earlier told News.ru.

A recent poll by market research firm Synovate Comcon showed Sobyanin's support among voters at 63.6 percent, falling 11 percent from the previous week. Navalny is Sobyanin's closest challenger, with 19.9 percent of Muscovites planning to vote for him.

Navalny's campaign has stated that its candidate would participate if a debate were held on the radio station Ekho Moskvy, and continues to lobby for a debate on national television.

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