Yesterday (Sunday) were held elections to the Russian Lower House of Parliament. Here is the wiki entry on it, up already. (Those wikians never sleep!) I don’t really follow Russian politics that closely (yawn), so you can read about the results and analysis elsewhere. My story here, rather, is how the voting took place in Kiev, Ukraine. Yes, Kiev.
People are probably aware, that when an election takes place in a nation, often citizens of the nation in question, in this case the Russian Federation, are offered a way to participate and vote, even if they happen to be living abroad. Sometimes people are allowed to mail their ballots in. In other cases accommodations are made by setting up a polling station in the Embassy or Consul of the foreign country.
Which is what happened here, when a polling station was set up in the Russian Embassy in Kiev. Any Russian adult citizen carrying a valid Russian passport was allowed to enter the Embassy and cast a ballot for the Duma candidate(s) of their choice. Simple democracy in action, right? The right to vote is a human right. Or should be, at the very least. This piece from the Komsomolka gives a blow-by-blow (literally) account of the attempts of Russian citizens to vote in Kiev. I proceed to summarize/translate from the timeline that is presented.
On the eve before the election, namely the night of Saturday September 17, Ukrainian nationalists started preparing for the big show. They attacked the Russian Embassy in Kiev (located on VozdukhoFlotsky Prospekt), tossing fireworks, smokebombs (“petards”), and Molotov cocktails. When Russia protested against these egregious attacks, Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Hroisman dismissed the attacks as petty hooliganism, not worthy of any attention. Boys will be boys, and Ukrainian nationalists will be … fascists.
After this prelude: On the morning of Sunday, September 18, the somewhat battered Embassy opened its doors [exact time not given] to allow Russian citizens in, to vote. Potential voters were greeted by fascist gangs; and also (to give the Ukrainians a little credit) police and National Guard who were entrusted with tamping down the level of violence.
The mob violence was not spontaneous: It was highly organized violence. Organized by the “Svoboda” political party, they’re the ones whose symbol is a yellow cartoon hand holding up 3 fingers; one of the main pro-Nazi parties dwelling in the flora and fauna of current Ukrainian politics. The Svoboda minions had organized a “flashmob”, complete with musical interludes and displays for the media. The Svoboda goons were led by party hack Igor Miroshnichenko, he is the freak who wears his hair in a drab ponytail and gets his rocks off by beating people up on television.
Towards noon flashmob “jollity” started turning more sinister. A pair of middle-aged Russians, a man and a woman, approached the door of the Embassy. It was later determined that the woman was Galina Miliunina, a Moscow resident who happened to be in Kiev visiting her aunt. As she approached the gate, Igor McPonytail broke down the token barrier which separated the voters from the mob. “Go back to Russia!” the Ukrainian nationalists screamed. A terrified Galina managed to get past them into the Embassy, thanks to some help from police and national guard. One of the Ukrainian cops even managed to slap some handcuffs on a nationalist, which helped to hold the guy back,, and away from Galina. “But I am a party deputy!” the man shrieked. One of the Ukrainian cops, observing this farce, was heard to mutter: “One deputy more or less, what difference does it make. We’re all sick of you people.”
Besides representatives of Svoboda, there were also present reps of a political party called “Sokol” (“Falcon”). A Falconite leader declared in his bullhorn that: “The Ukrainian nation demands more than just sweet notes and fine words. Today we start the political liquidation of Russian citizens.”
Not long after this speech, a new victim arrived: A big tall husky man carrying a Russian passport. The nationalists blocked his way. The big fella looked the nationalist thugs straight in the eyes and uttered: “I see that Hollywood never ended for you guys.” He then tried to push his way through the mob and, for his efforts, received a solid punch on the jaw, delivered by none other than Adolph McPonytail. Who also accompanied his blow with a hailstorm of verbal abuse, including the clever punchline: “Get back to Russia, you Katsap.” [Katsap being the Ukrainian insult-word for Russian.]
Immediately a hockey game broke out. Ukrainian nationalists rushed like a pack to attack the big guy: They drove him onto the sidewalk, pushed him to the ground, and started to kick him with their Svoboda boots and sneakers.
Undeterred, the big guy bounced to his feet and lashed out in all directions with his massive hairy fists. At that moment the cops came running up and separated everybody.
It was later learned that the big guy (whose name is not known) is not even a Russian citizen, he is a Ukrainian citizen. Therefore it is a complete mystery why he was carrying a Russian passport. Apparently this guy qualifies to receive the “Ilya Muromets” award for bad-ass-ery.
The fun and games continued throughout the day, as every arriving Russian voter was forced to walk through a gauntlet of whistles and verbal abuse. One Russian citizen of athletic build arrived on a bicycle. Ignoring the taunts of the mob, he parked his bike, walked inside on his trim and toned biker’s legs, cast his ballot, came back out, mounted his bicycle, and pedalled away, but not without having his bike helmet pelted with an egg.
As evening settled, things quieted down. The radical mobs melted away. The Ukrainian National Guard changed shift. Russians arrived to a more bucolic environment, some even bringing their children with them.
Total estimated number of Russian citizens who voted in Kiev: A whopping 20 people! Perhaps 21 or 22. Thus fitting in perfectly with the Ukrainian tradition which could be called Much Ado About Nothing.