Rus­sia votes with Putin se­cure

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RUS­SIANS yes­ter­day voted in par­lia­men­tary polls, with par­ties loyal to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin set to main­tain their dom­i­nance de­spite the Krem­lin mak­ing a show of clean­ing up the vote af­ter mass protests last time around.

The na­tion­wide elec­tions fol­low sev­eral years of tu­mult that have seen the coun­try an­nex Crimea from Ukraine, lurch into its worst stand­off with the West since the Cold War, plunge into eco­nomic cri­sis and launch a mil­i­tary cam­paign in Syria.

But Mr Putin’s rat­ings re­main high at around 80 per­cent and, with the Krem­lin in tight con­trol of the me­dia and public dis­course, au­thor­i­ties ap­pear to be bank­ing on a trou­ble-free vote paving the way for him to cruise to a fourth term as pres­i­dent at polls in 2018.

De­spite the dra­matic events that have rocked the coun­try, the cam­paign for the State Duma – widely seen as a rub­ber-stamp body that has slav­ishly toed the Krem­lin line – was dubbed the most bor­ing in re­cent mem­ory by ob­servers, and high lev­els of voter ap­a­thy sug­gest that turnout could be low.

“The cam­paign wasn’t in­ter­est­ing,” said 70-year-old Alexander, vot­ing in Moscow yes­ter­day. “They all prom­ise a lot but they’re tread­ing a fa­mil­iar path.”

An­other el­derly voter, 75-yearold Valentina Pan­teleyeva, said she backed the rul­ing United Rus­sia party be­cause Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin “has done a lot for us”.

For the first time, res­i­dents of the Rus­sia-an­nexed Black Sea penin­sula of Crimea are among the roughly 110 mil­lion vot­ers el­i­gi­ble to cast their bal­lots for the 450-seat Duma in polls con­demned as il­le­gal by Ukraine.

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