From Pride To Protest: How Russians Feel About Their Presidential Election

From Pride To Protest: How Russians Feel About Their Presidential Election

Russians head to the polls Sunday to vote in their presidential election.

Vladimir Putin is expected to win handily. He has been in power now for 18 years — 14 as president and four as prime minister — and even he seems a little bored with his candidacy. A campaign speech he gave this week lasted just two minutes, and he didn’t even say the word “election.”

The good news for Putin is that none of his seven presidential challengers are polling higher than single digits. And the majority of voters in Russia seem happy with the status quo.

But Russia is an enormous country that spans 11 time zones. More than 140 million people live in Russia, and their opinions on politics, politicians and policy run the gamut.

So we spent time with three Russians living in Moscow and asked them who they plan to vote for or why they don’t plan to vote at all.

Viktoria Ivleva, 62, lives with her dog, a Thai Ridgeback named Lionya, in a flat in central Moscow. Her apartment is quiet and cozy, a refuge from the busy city streets, which likely comes in handy after she gets back from an assignment photographing conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Ivleva is an exacting person; she speaks intentionally and economically in perfect English. And she votes intentionally as well.

“I think it’s very important for a ruler to be kind,” she says of the man she’ll vote for on Sunday, Grigory Yavlinsky. He’s against armed conflict and was trained as an economist.

And even though she knows Yavlinsky has no shot at winning the election, she says it’s important to vote anyway.

“There’s always a point to struggle. I don’t think we’re in a sort of Buddha position to sit and watch. Lots of people have been sitting and watching for several years with no result,” she says.

“In most situations in life it’s better to do something than not to do anything. And you never know in Russia. It’s a country without floor and without ceiling. It’s a country where everything is allowed and nothing is allowed. So you figure it out.”

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