Ivan, power station worker, Ufa
Every worker is being forced to take an absentee ballot and instructed to vote at one particular polling station with the rest of the workforce, all together for United Russia. It will be very easy for them to count who has turned up, who hasn’t, and how they’ve voted. On every shift, in every department we are constantly being told that if you don’t comply you’ll get the sack.
Yelena, nurse, Ulan Ude
Every week we have a work briefing in our poliklinik [doctor’s surgery]. They are always pressing on us to vote for United Russia. The head doctor … says that if we don’t vote for United Russia we won’t get our Putin pribavki [federal funds added to nurses’ salaries].
Dasha, 19, student, Moscow
I was hanging out with my friends in Novogireyevo [in Moscow] near the metro. There were six of us. We were approached by a car. A young man came out. He started talking to us about the elections and said if we wanted to vote for United Russia we could get 500 roubles. I didn’t agree but four of my group did. They filled in some kind of form – name, surname and passport data. They were given the numbers of polling stations where they should go and vote and get the cash.
Anastasiya, 40, librarian, Buryatia
There was a meeting in the village where all doctors, teachers, nurses were gathered by the culture department of the local government … The doors were closed and we were like hostages. We were told write a declaration saying “I, name and surname, pledge to vote for United Russia and these are my passport details …” We were told that if United Russia got a high percentage in the village we would get a bonus on our salaries.
Natalia, 29, Novosibirsk
Some activists from United Russia came to my home. They asked if I was going to vote for their party. I said no because I don’t agree with its ideology. And they replied, Well, look, there’s blacklist of people who aren’t voting for United Russia. We know where you live and we are going to add you to that list.
Masha, student, Vladimir
We were told – you study in a state university, so you should vote for the state party. I don’t know what to do. I wanted to vote for another party. But it was so difficult to get into university, I don’t want to be thrown out.
My personal favorite was the line “Well, look, there’s blacklist of people who aren’t voting for United Russia. We know where you live and we are going to add you to that list.” I’ll have to try that out the next time I do some campaign work here in the States.