In the courtyard outside, there were kids' games, entertainers in traditional Russian garb, and stands selling Russian food. "Once every six years, they let you buy something at normal prices," a young man quipped as he walked by.
After voting, an elderly couple bought provisions they said reminded them of the Soviet years, including canned fish with tomato sauce from Crimea for $1. The couple, both 83 years old, told me that there was always some food on offer at Russian elections, but that they'd never seen their local polling place decked out this elaborately.
Rina and Konstantin -- they asked me not to use their last name -- met at the Soviet Union's Leningrad Institute of Aerospace Instrumentation and recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Both took to the streets in the early 1990s to defend Russian democracy, they told me. Both voted for Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s and for liberal businessman Mikhail Prokhorov in 2012.
But as I learned after we started talking, one thing had changed of late: Konstantin had become a regular viewer of Vladimir Solovyov, a nationalist, high-octane political talk-show host on state television. Rina told me she hewed to her democratic ideals by voting for Ksenia Sobchak, a liberal former television host. Konstantin, however, said that global turbulence had compelled him to go a in different direction. To offer a window into the state of Russian politics at the moment, I've transcribed excerpts of our conversation, below.
The Washington Post: Why did you come to vote?
Rina: We wanted to show our quote-unquote dear president that there are people who want him to resign. That he should let young people take his place. Eighteen years in power is enough.
Post: So who did you vote for?
Rina: For Sobchak.
Konstantin: For who?!
Rina: I voted for Sobchak.
Rina: Oh, come on. What about you, Kostya, who did you vote for?
Konstantin: I voted for Putin.
Rina, in a low voice: Listen, Kostya!
Konstantin: Yup, that's how it is.
Rina: This is very sad.
Rina, to The Post: He told you this. He would have never told me this. I just - Kostya. Oh, Kostya.
Konstantin: The whole opposition has discredited itself completely.
Rina: So what? If everyone thinks the way you do, there will never be one.
Post: Did you ever vote for Putin before?
Konstantin: No, never.
Post: So why now?
Rina: He despaired.
Konstantin: No. There's no one else to vote for. None of the candidates -
Rina: Well then you shouldn't have gone to vote at all!
Konstantin: But Putin, at least, assures stability here.
Rina: That's right - by shooting rockets all over the place! Leave it, Kostya -
Konstantin: Thank God he is! With the state of the world that's been created right now -
Post: So what's changed in the last six years?
Konstantin: What's going on in the world right now. Syria with these so-called chemical attacks and the rockets that are going to be fired. With Skripal-- this is just horrific with Skripal (referring to the former spy, Sergei Skripal, who was attacked with a nerve agent in Britain earlier this month).
Rina: I want to tell you: You can't watch TV here, we have Solovyov from morning til night. But my husband has started watching it. ... You understand: We are all slowly moving backwards, into the Soviet Union. I'm horrified that this is happening. Unfortunately, we're not going to live to see Putin - someday he'll be gone, he's not forever. But we also aren't forever.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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