Polling station officials clash with topless members of the Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN at a polling station in Moscow. ‘I steal for Putin,’ is written on their bodies.
Russians voted yesterday under the monitoring of web cameras and a network of volunteer civilian observers in a presidential election set to be won by strongman Vladimir Putin.
Six observers watched the election vote in one Moscow polling station, often outnumbering the voters, while wires trailed from an unobtrusive webcam mounted on a column opposite the ballot boxes. By midday, the independent elections watchdog group had recorded more than 1,000 complaints of irregularities across the country, ranging from questionable voter registration lists to nonfunctioning web cameras to buses believed to be carrying so-called “carousel voters” from precinct to precinct.
Some voters expressed anger at being offered no real choice in a vote pitting Putin against four weaker candidates - communist Gennady Zyuganov, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, former parliamentary speaker Sergei Mironov and billionaire metals tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov. Putin, accompanied by his rarely-seen wife Lyudmila, submitted his vote in Moscow. “I woke up, did some sport and then came here” to the polling station in Moscow, Putin told reporters alongside his smiling wife. “I am hoping for a strong turnout.” Putin served two terms as president from 2000-2008 and then became prime minister under his protégé Dmitry Medvedev.
Meanwhile, a group of Ukrainian female protesters bared their breasts at the polling station where Putin had just voted in the presidential race and tried to steal the ballot box with his vote. The Femen group, known for their topless protests against trafficking of women and prostitution in several countries, turned up at the polling station in Moscow minutes after Putin voted. The three women pulled off their tops, shouted “Putin is a thief!” and tried to steal the ballot box with his vote before being detained by police, the group said in a statement on its blog.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.