Voters Complain About a Lack of Choice
Voters at polling stations across the city
expressed frustration over what they called a lack of meaningful
alternatives in Sunday's Moscow City Duma elections, while those
with strong preferences said that personalities mattered more
to them than principles.
"There are no choices," said Nadezhda
Grachyova, a pensioner, as she left Polling Station No. 226
at a school on Leningradsky Prospekt. "They all say they
want what's best for the people, but who's going to say they
Grachyova said she had voted for the centrist
Party of Life. "They're nothing as a party, but I know
their candidate Irina Rukina personally. She's a good woman,"
Many voters seemed to be similarly motivated
-- to the clear benefit of United Russia, whose party list is
topped by Mayor Yury Luzhkov.
"I voted for our Luzhkov because I want
him to stick around," said Irina Pokrovskaya, a woman in
her 40s, after she and her husband voted at Polling Station
No. 108, a heavily guarded school near the White House.
"Look around the city, you can see what
he's done all over the place. New construction, roads -- whatever
it is, at least he's doing something," Pokrovskaya said.
Voters passed through two metal detectors to
enter that station, where Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and
former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov voted. Black-suited security
officers patrolled the school, fingers raised to earpieces.
The mood was lighter at other downtown schools.
At Polling Station No. 488 on Pervy Khoroshyovsky Proyezd, local
elections commissioner Alexander Lazarev, 26, stood smart in
his naval officer's uniform and handed out flowers, notebooks
and pens to first-time voters.
On Skornyazhny Pereulok, voters emerged from
polling stations Nos. 58 and 60 munching meat pies that were
sold inside, and children in folk costumes put on a show in
a hall. After voting, Yefrosinya Zinchenko, 86, displayed a
note she had written to herself so she would not forget for
whom to vote.
At School No. 840 in southern Moscow, popular
songs from the 1970s blared from loudspeakers while merchants
sold clothes from kiosks that had been set up that morning.
Maxim Andreyev, a tall elderly man in a worn brown coat and
a rabbit-fur hat, stood in the school's lobby studying the boards
with the lists of parties and candidates.
"United Russia is Luzhkov, Maxim. He won't
let anyone do anything bad to us," said his wife, Svetlana
"I'm going to vote the Communists, I've
voted for Communists for 45 years," Andreyev replied.