Polling stations opened today in Russia for the presidential elections. Elections with a fairly obvious outcome, which will see the reconfirmation of Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, despite some sabotage such as green ink thrown into the ballot boxes and the burning of voting booths. On social networks, also hosted by local newspapers, picturesque situations arise: from Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) going to vote, to concerts and food stands in front of schools. The story of a festive atmosphere collides in a country where reality tells something very different, namely dissidents who died in prison and business executives opposed to the invasion of Ukraine who died in circumstances blurry. It is therefore not surprising that pro-“special operations” singer Stas Mikhailov performed at a polling station in Omsk. With a lot of fans.

In Transbaikal, they voted in masks while chanting verses. But in Tyumen, before voting, you can take a selfie with the hardback book of Tucker Carlson, the conservative American journalist who recently interviewed the president.

In Arkhangelsk, after choosing from the menu, you receive free pancakes and women parade in traditional costumes of the region. A video is circulating online showing two newlyweds heading to the polls in costume. And that's not all: in some cases, you vote immediately after saying yes: like Alexei and Ulyana Ivdenko in Kamchatka, electronically, sitting at the civil registry office.

Quizzes with gifts close to the polling stations

The quizzes deserve a special mention. In many regions, contests were held to increase participation in elections. A housekeeper with three children from the Surgut district won an apartment. And Lada Vesta cars were also up for grabs in the competition (for those who don't know, this is a sedan from the Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ, produced at the Izhevsk factories). In Tyumen, two women won smartphones. In a video circulating on Telegram, one of the winners, a policewoman, can be seen clapping at the camera.

Farce, comedy, definitely entertainment. Even politics. “An official from the Ministry of the Environment in the Kaluga region showed up this way to vote,” explains Francis Scarr, a journalist at the BBC.

(Photo of the newlyweds in Novosibirsk via @francis_scarr)

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