Elderly vote in droves for the Communists

Helen Womack in Moscow watched pensioners rushing to take revenge against reformers

Polling station number 67 was doing a brisk trade yesterday morning as the Russian parliamentary election got under way. But most of the people coming to vote in the red-brick primary school in central Moscow were in late middle-age, if not elderly. "Don't worry", said a youth. "The young people will be along when Linda finishes singing on television." He was referring to a new pop star whom the younger generation hails as the Russian Madonna.

While their children and grandchildren were still at home, the old appeared to be voting in droves for the Communist Party. Despite the presence of four policemen and two druzhinki (public-order volunteers) to protect voters against possible Chechen terrorist attacks, there was a festive atmosphere at the polling station as the pensioners gave their verdict on market reforms.

"I have voted for our man, Zyuganov," said a beaming Nina Nikolayevna, referring to the Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov. "I got great pleasure from it. Of course, we will have to wait and see if [President Boris] Yeltsin will respect the outcome of the election."

Queues built up inside the polling station as many voters donned or changed spectacles to read the ballot paper, long as a menu in a fancy restaurant, with 43 different parties to choose from. But they mostly knew what they were looking for: box 25 - the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

I stood at the exit for about an hour, and every other person I questioned had voted Communist. The other 50 per cent in my sample had spread their favours among the remaining parties, although I met nobody who had voted for the nationalists Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexander Lebed. Oft-repeated was the wish to see "decent" politicians elected.

Lyubov Pavlovna, a woman in her late fifties, said she had chosen the leftist "Power to the People Party" of Nikolai Ryzhkov, a former prime minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, because he was experienced and dignified. "I'm tired of seeing politicians fighting in parliament," she said. An elderly couple, Antonina Vasilievna and Sergei Mikhailovich, had chosen the party of the "little fish", a play on the name of the parliamentary speaker, Ivan Rybkin, because "he's decent and solid". The politician is conservative although not actually Communist.

Polling station 67 did produce at least one vote for a free marketeer. "I chose [Yegor] Gaidar because I have not forgotten the empty shop shelves of the old days," said Alexander, a journalist. But it seemed the reform vote would pick up only if the young people went to the polls.

Voting day began bright and sunny but in the afternoon there was a violent snow storm with thunder and lightning, a rare phenomenon in winter. An anti-Communist friend. "It's a sign from the gods", he said. "Time to switch off the television and go out to vote."

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices