Inside Moscow as Russia votes in election with no opposition to Putin

Trending 1 month ago

MOSCOW, Russia — A dependable watercourse of voters arrived astatine a polling position successful nan bosom of Russia’s superior connected this crisp, sunny Friday greeting to formed their votes successful a three-day presidential election.

With nan victor successful nary doubt, nan Kremlin will alternatively beryllium looking to turnout arsenic a measurement of nationalist support for Vladimir Putin’s extended norm crossed this immense country.

Muscovites began filing into this school-turned-voting tract arsenic soon arsenic nan doors opened astatine 8 a.m. section clip (1 a.m. ET). At nan entranceway stood a ample banner emblazoned pinch nan missive “V” successful nan colors of nan Russian emblem and stating nan dates of this Friday-Sunday election.

Authorities person utilized nan Latin letters “V” and “Z” arsenic unofficial symbols for its war successful Ukraine, which has entered its 3rd twelvemonth pinch nan country’s subject advancing connected nan battlefield.

The Kremlin’s expanded power complete Russian life intends location is nary existent guidance to Putin, pinch nan 3 different men connected nan ballot representing parties loyal to Putin who only campaigned sparingly.

Still, immoderate voters said they did not request an alternative.

Nina Kisileva, 90, told NBC News arsenic she exited nan position that she came retired early to ballot for different six years of Putin. “Because I spot him. I really spot him,” Kisileva said, adding that she has lived done a slew of Soviet leaders, including Josef Stalin. “I retrieve erstwhile Stalin died, his ceremonial successful 1953, I retrieve it well. And now I spot only Putin,” she said.

Svetlana Kulikova said she voted astatine nan position electronically, an action for nan first clip this year.

Like Kisileva, she said she besides voted for Putin. “We unrecorded well, we are satisfied pinch everything and, well, we are very satisfied pinch our president,” Kulikova, 59, said.

Russian Election Voting MoscoqVoters formed their ballots astatine a schoolhouse turned polling position successful cardinal Moscow connected Friday.NBC News

Gauging nationalist sentiment has go astir intolerable since nan opening of nan war, arsenic galore group fearfulness speaking retired freely amid a crackdown connected dissent. But Putin’s support standing remains precocious astatine 86%, according to nan independent pollster Levada Center.

There is not overmuch suspense, since 2 candidates pinch anti-war views person been barred from running and location is small independent monitoring of nan ballot process.

But a large turnout would beryllium seen arsenic legitimizing nan warfare and would help to solidify nan conception that nan state is agreed astir its president, already nan longest serving Kremlin leader since Stalin.

On nan eve of nan election, Putin, 71, appealed to feelings of patriotism and work successful a typical video message, arsenic he encouraged group to ballot and show unity.

The country’s opposition, decimated by a crackdown and nan death of its leader Alexei Navalny, has been divided connected really Russians should dainty nan election. Some person called for a boycott; others person urged group to spoil their ballots aliases ballot for immoderate campaigner different than Putin.

Supporters of Navalny person moreover suggested penning his sanction into nan ballot.

The astir apt protestation will halfway connected a telephone for Russians to show up en masse astatine polling stations astatine noon connected Sunday successful each of nan country’s 11 clip zones, successful a silent show of their discontent.

Perhaps astir troublesome for nan Kremlin, this week has seen a surge successful Ukrainian drone attacks crossed ample parts of Russia, and attempts astatine a onshore incursion successful nan 2 separator regions of Belgorod and Kursk that look to beryllium ongoing aft respective days of fighting.

The regions’ governors urged group to ballot connected Friday, but besides shared warnings astir rocket threats and suggested voting electronically if basal fixed nan imaginable dangers to group leaving their homes.

Russia Election Moscow Polling StationPresidential candidates, including Putin, displayed wrong a Moscow polling position connected Friday.Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP - Getty Images

This is nan first statesmanlike predetermination successful which group tin ballot electronically, raising concerns astir falsifications and fraud, which person historically plagued Russian elections. More than 290,000 group successful Moscow had already voted electronically successful nan first hr of nan voting connected Friday, authorities news agency Tass reported.

More than 114 cardinal Russians are eligible to ballot successful nan election, including astir 2 cardinal abroad. For nan first time, group successful nan four occupied regions of Ukraine annexed by Russia will besides beryllium included, successful usurpation of world rule successful a move condemned by Kyiv and its Western allies.

Results are expected to commencement coming successful precocious Sunday, pinch a landslide triumph for Putin expected to beryllium announced connected Monday.

Keir Simmons and Natasha Lebedeva reported from Moscow. Yuliya Talmazan reported from London.

Keir Simmons

Keir Simmons is main world analogous for NBC News, based successful London.

Natasha Lebedeva

Natasha Lebedeva is NBC's Senior Director for International Affairs, based successful Washington.

Yuliya Talmazan

Yuliya Talmazan is simply a newsman for NBC News Digital, based successful London.