Russians vote for Putin’s successor on earth and in space

March 3rd, 2008 - 12:28 am ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
Moscow, March 2 (Xinhua) While millions of Russian voters went to the polls Sunday amid snow flurries to elect their new president, Yuri Malenchenko cast his ballot far, far away from any polling station on Earth - he voted in the outer space. Malenchenko, a flight engineer and astronaut who is currently working aboard the International Space Station (ISS), said he would not miss the opportunity to make his own choice on who will become the successor to President Vladimir Putin.

As in the 2007 parliamentary elections, Malenchenko voted “distantly”, making his decision heard via a trusted person in the mission control centre and will learn about his choice during radio contact.

“Malenchenko’s trusted person will enter a special room where he can comfortably talk with his comrade working in orbit and, having learnt his decision, fill out a ballot and drop it into a special ballot box that will then be carried to the territorial election commission,” Cosmonauts’ Training Centre spokesman Sergei Tafrov said.

While Malenchenko is radio-contacting his friend, the cosmonauts from Star City will go to the Cosmonauts’ House where three polling stations have been set up to cast their ballots simultaneously with him.

“By voting simultaneously with Malenchenko, they will show their solidarity with their colleague who is doing his duty under the challenging conditions of space,” Tafrov said, adding that the way they voted could probably start a new voting tradition.

Distance did not stop Russian voters from exercising their rights entitled by the constitution nor did the snowy weather.

A spokesman for the Moscow municipality said they had deployed more than 1,000 working units to clean the snowdrifts on roads, near bus stops, subway entrances and polling stations.

“More than 40,000 sanitary workers have been mobilized to do the job in order to ensure the smooth going of the election,” he said.

“The voting process will not be disrupted by the snowy weather. Actually, we have got used to it,” Natalia Zabrodskaya, who is in charge of a polling station, told Xinhua.

“I cast my vote for Dmitry Medvedev for I hope the existing political policies could be sustained and life could be more stable,” Pavel Irochak, a senior student in the Moscow Aviation Institute, told Xinhua.

However, Galina Hatuntsava, a 78-year-old retired worker, disagreed. “Though Medvedev is widely seen as the certain successor to Putin, my husband and I have decided to support communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. We can only vote for the candidate we are more familiar with,” she said.

At noon, Putin cast his ballot together with his wife Lyudmila at a polling station at the Russian Academy of Sciences building in Moscow.

“I am in a festive mood,” said Putin, who later travelled to a restaurant where he was joined by Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and Medvedev.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |