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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence