''The main formula of Putin’s victory – the good must have fists''

How residents of Tatarstan together with Russians see the president a defender of world evil by forgiving grudges

''The main formula of Putin’s victory – the good must have fists'' Photo: kremlin.ru

On 18 March, Russia experimented an important historic event – the presidential election that took place during the complicated international situation. People felt that not only the fate of the Fatherland but that of civilisation was decided. This is why the turnout is high. In addition, the Crimean factor affected. Realnoe Vremya tells the details about how residents of Tatarstan who, according to the Central Election Commission's data, didn't have a grudge against federal power voted.

Putin: ''We, undoubtedly, are doomed to success''

Russia, together with Tatarstan, made its choice of whom they wanted to see as a president. Let's provide the latest data by 19 March morning. After processing 99,76% of ballots, the Russian Central Election Commission claimed record support of presidential candidates. 55,403 million people (76,65%) voted for Putin, over 8,54 million (11,82%) – for Grudinin, about 4,104 million (5,68) – for Zhirinovsky, 1,197 million (1,66%) – for Ksenia Sobchak. Grigory Yavlinsky gained 1,04% of votes, the other candidates got less than 1%: Boris Titov – 0,75%, Maksim Suraykin – 0,68% and Sergey Baburin – 0,65%.

The digits could change by just fractions of per cents when all ballots were counted, which wouldn't influence the results of voting any more. Vladimir Putin got almost 3,5 times more votes than all his rivals altogether (22,28%) and almost 6,5 times more than his closest rival. For instance, in the previous election, Putin went ahead of his closest follower, CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov 3,7 times.

In Tatarstan, the election passed in an organised and calm way. ''By 8 am, 100% of the protocols on the Russian presidential election have been processed. An open direct dialogue with all participants of the process is a characteristic of the campaign. I want to thank all people who rendered support in the preparation, special thanks to the voters. The election turnout in Tatarstan is 77,45% of the total number,'' said Chairman of the CEC in Tatarstan Midkhat Shagiakhmetov on 19 March morning. ''The election on our territory was calm, there were addresses that were assisted quickly, they all were replied.''

The current president leads among the residents of Tatarstan – 82,09%, Grudinin goes next – 9,06%, then Zhirinovsky – 3,01%, Suraykin – 1,68%, Sobchak – 1,33%, Yavlinsky – 0,87%, Titov – 0,59%, Baburin – 0,58%.

''The election turnout in Tatarstan is 77,45% of the total number,'' said Chairman of the CEC in Tatarstan Midkhat Shagiakhmetov on 19 March morning. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Shagiakhmetov noted the activity of municipal districts and gave the data on the republic's cities: Kazan – 61,47%, Naberezhnye Chelny – 79,54%, Almetyevsk – 76,51%, Nizhnekamsk – 71,83%. It was said on 18 March at 6 pm that districts were leaders in turnout: Kaybitsy – 98,08%, Atninsky – 95,03%, Apastovo – 94,88%. Kazan districts were outsiders – Kirov – 54,70%, Privolzhsky – 54,04%, Sovetsky – 53,48%.

Tatarstan countrymen were not only more conscious than citizens – in some districts, a super-high turnout was already demonstrated two hours after stations opened. For instance, more than a half of Apastovo (53,16%) and Kaybitsy (52,67%) voters did their civic duty. In general, according to data by midday, the turnout in Tatarstan was higher than in the previous Russian presidential election 6 years ago: 38,47% against 35,45% in 2012. Head of the CEC of Russia Ella Pamfilova praised the work of the republic in the election: ''The election was at a due, good level.''

More than 97,000 polling stations that expected 107 million of Russians to vote worked in the country in total. More than a half of this number came. People went to polling stations in a very surprising way: a citizen of Nizhny Oblast landed on a hang glider, a resident of Mamadysh approached on a wooden deer, people of Zelenodolsk – with a carriage procession consisting of more than 40 people.

In the festive demonstration-concert on Manezhnaya Square in the evening, Vladimir Putin thanked the Russians for support: ''I see in this at least recognition of what has been done in very complicated conditions in the last years – the trust and hope of our people that we will work so much, so responsibly and with more results.'' The head of the country emphasised that it's also important for him to attract those who could have voted for the other candidates to his side – unity is needed to move forward: ''We will think of the future of our great homeland, the future of our kids. And acting so, we, undoubtedly, are doomed to success. Together we will undertake a big large-scale job for the sake of Russia.''

In the festive demonstration-concert on Manezhnaya Square in the evening, Vladimir Putin thanked the Russians for support. Photo: kremlin.ru

Kirienko's success and mutual reproaches of the opposition

In experts' opinion, organiser of this electorate campaign Sergey Kirienko has two tasks: to provide a high turnout and a growth of Putin's core electorate, what he successfully did. Now we can say he won't see the fate of Volodin who was fired during the low turnout in the election to the State Duma in 2016. It wasn't easy for Kiriyenko to cross the bar of the electoral nucleus of 50 million people (45 million people voted for Putin in 2012, 49 million – in 2004). It was more important to include the generation of the 70s and 80s who didn't express their political activity previously in their number. So Kirienko's task was to make the scheme 70/70 work: a high turnout and growth of the electorate. Curiously, Tatarstan provided both.

The opposition complained about numerous violations during the day. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russian officially said that 13 criminal cases that ''somehow mentioned issues of electoral legislation'' and 775 administrative procedures opened. Seven materials were sent to the Investigative Committee, another two are ready to be sent – on violations in Lyubertsy and the city of Artyom in which people told about ballot stuffing.

The meeting of Aleksey Navalny with Ksenia Sobchak that was transmitted before stations closed on the Net was scandalous. In answer to Sobchak's complaint that Navalny refused to unite the efforts, he claimed: ''I don't have anything in common with you. All you're saying is absolute hypocrisy, in this so-called election, you've shown herself as a champion of hypocrisy.'' He also told how the secular TV personality came to his house at 2 am by claiming that she is ''offered huge money for declaration'' and she didn't know what to do. Ksenia called it a ''lie''.

It was told in Tatarstan that Navalny's activists with leaflets in which they urged to boycott the election were arrested. The oppositionists claimed about mass transportation of voters to polling stations by bus and posted a photo as confirmation. However, there was an explanation for it: buses delivered voters from remote settlements to regional election commissions for their convenience. CPRF representatives were indignant at papers that were stuck under the photo of Grudinin on the information stand with the candidates. They told new information about the politician's income with his foreign accounts. But representatives of election commissions alluded to a letter of the Russian CEC secretary with the corresponding instruction. In the evening, it was told about Kazan poet Liliya Gazizova's arrest. As she explained herself, for damaging the ballot that she demonstratively tore and threw into the box. She was fined for an attempt to undermine the election.

2,817 stations worked in Tatarstan, and the majority was equipped with video cameras. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Sociologists surveyed about 13,500 people in the republic, and from 60 to 70% of the respondents said whom they had voted for. So, according to the survey, Putin gained 80,9% in the Republic of Tatarstan, Grudinin – 10,1%, Zhirinovsky – 4,5%, Sobchak – 1,6%, Yavlinsky – 0,9% (by the way, the same number of people admitted they damaged the ballots), Titov and Baburin got 0,4% each, while Suraykin – 0,3%.

One could follow the election online on nashvybor2018.ru. 2,817 stations worked in Tatarstan, and the majority was equipped with video cameras. Territorial election commissions were equipped with them first. Technical means to calculate votes have been used for the first time in 42 stations – it's ballot paper processing complexes (BPPC).

''Putin is made of Teflon, no limescale, deposit and grudges stick to him''

Political expert Andrey Kolyadin gave five reasons why the current Russian presidential election was marked for such a high turnout of voters. Firstly, it's perfect work of the administrative system – all power vertical: from the president's administration to regional and municipal power bodies, he considers.

''Moreover, not by forcing to vote but encouraging, that's to say, without violating the law, they accomplished their task on informing people how they can do their constitutional duty in a more qualified way – to take part in the election. And this work, day by day, brought to such a result,'' Kolyadin noted.

The expert also highly praised the work of the CEC that that time paid much more time to raise voters' awareness. In addition, election commission members ''purged a considerable share of 'dead souls' and worked hard, in general''. The third bloc is the work of the very candidates who ''created a political life for our country during the election by watering each other, discussing, making their videos, travelling across the country''. The fourth reason is the influence that international community had on our voters. In Kolyadin's opinion, the West very unfairly accused Russia of falsifying the election in the USA, applied numerous sanctions against it, put pressure on the Olympic movement, implemented the Kremlin list. The accusations of the implication in Skripal's poisoning was the last straw:

''In answer to that terrifying event that took place in Great Britain – the use of military chemical weapon against people – Theresa May defined during several hours that Russia did it, not even some specific criminals but precisely Russia, and accused it that it's an aggressor country and urged all NATO to be against the aggressor. It all played a mobilising role in totality. And people, instead of separating from power, considered power as the only protection of world evil, and, consequently, it affected the turnout,'' says Andrey Kolyadin.

Some people forecasted that this time the turnout in Tatarstan would be high enough because the republic had a grudge due to the agreement and the Tatar language. However, this hasn't been confirmed, and Kolyadin explained why: ''Putin is made of Teflon, no limescale, deposit and grudges stick to him. People can have a grudge against Medvedev – he's like a lightning conductor. And Mr Putin has undoubted authority, he has shown it during this election campaign, and Tatarstan has voted for him very actively.''

''There was a feeling that people joined Crimea''

Other experts agree that aggravation of Russian relations with the world only played into Putin's hands.

''I have an impression that society consolidated around the importance of the current historical moment. In other words, everybody understands what's going on in the world and what's going on in Russia and that now probably the fate of civilisation was decided. This is why the turnout is high. All these threats we've recently heard have clearly shown what a moment the country is going through. And the high turnout is the consolidation around the winner. The result is also understandable because this fight for the future is linked with the president's figure,'' thinks Igor Ryabov. ''The main formula of Putin's victory is that the good must have fists, and in this campaign, he was both for the good and the fists.''

Another political expert Boris Mezuyev called the turnout of voters in this election very good, especially in Moscow. It can be only partially explained by good weather. In his opinion, the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea to Russia was the key factor: ''Besides the general attitude to Mr Putin and the president's support, it's, undoubtedly, the Crimean factor – 18 March – and that as a result of his quite a calm election campaign, Putin managed to do so that not only residents of Crimea but also Russians want to join the Crimean referendum, like to participate in those events that took place four years ago. Only the Crimeans voted at that moment, and here there was a feeling that people joined Crimea.''

Firstly, the very date played a certain role in the campaign's success. Secondly, the transmission of the film Crimea was in prime time. Thirdly, Putin's visit to the demonstration in Sevastopol. The selection of opponents was also in favour, among which there was, for instance, Yavlinsky and Sobchak who were ''the noisiest people who denied the Crimean choice''. The ''support of western friends – support in brackets'' also helped.

Constant reproaches and threats of the West made Russian society only come together around the ''centre of power'', the expert thinks.

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By Vasilya Shirshova. Video: Kamil Ismailov
Tatarstan