THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Inspite of the hot and humid climate, they queued up here on Friday morning to choose their next President, two days ahead of their compatriots on the mainland. It was more like an outing for the 47 Russian nationals at the Honorary Russian Consulate at Van Ross Junction.
“I never expected that I could vote here,” said Anna Shankar in Russian, which was translated by her Malayali husband Vinod Shankar. “It is when I am out of the country that I feel more Russian and more patriotic and hence, I voted,” Anna, who is settled in the city, described her first vote in the last ten years.
Though it is a normal practice for consulates to have polling booth for elections in the respective countries, it was Kerala’s first time in contributing to the Russian Parliamentary elections by setting up a polling booth with one ballot box for Russians residing in the State and the tourists. Any adult with a Russian passport could exercise his or her franchise at the polling booth and paper ballots were used to cast the vote.
“It was quite an unusual experience with the cameras zooming in on us and all the media attention we were getting,” said Natalia, a tourist from Moscow after casting her vote in the box no: 2 of the booth no: 5,096.
The Embassy in Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai were the other centres for the 2012 Russian Parliamentary elections conducted in India on Friday. However, on Thursday, 30 Russian citizens attached to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project had cast their votes at Koodankulam.
“It was one of the most important events in the political practice of the Russian nationals. Hence, we decided to set up a booth here,” said Vladimir Ermakaov, consul of the Russian Federation in Chennai who arrived in the city to conduct the elections. He oversaw the voting along with Dmitry Chernov, attache from Chennai and Ratheesh C Nair, Honorary Consul here.
Though the time period for the process was set for two hours from 10 am, it finished almost half-an-hour before the stipulated time.
“The ballots would be sent to Moscow through the diplomatic bag by the officials from Chennai,” said Ratheesh C Nair. He said the response was overwhelming as they had expected just 30-odd citizens to turn up for the poll.
Though there are five registered candidates for the elections, Vladimir Putin (United Russia) is far ahead of the other four, including Gennady Zyuganov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), Sergey Mironov (A Just Russia), Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) and Mikhail Prokhorov (Independent), if one is to go by the words of the majority of the voters here.