[Hpn] SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia - Homeless Russians cast parliamentary ballots - Yahoo News - December 7, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Mon, 8 Dec 2003 14:53:03 -0500


Homeless Russians cast parliamentary ballots

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By Staff Writers - Yahoo News - December 7, 2003

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia - In a corner of Saint Petersburg
immortalized by writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, homeless people
strolled into polling station 74 to help choose the nation's
new parliament.

"It's odd, but the homeless demonstrate an exemplary sense
of civic duty," said Sergei Antonov, a policeman at the
booth, the only one in Russia's second city to allow
homeless to vote.

Three hours after the station opened, about 20 homeless
people had cast their ballots for the State Duma lower house
of parliament, said Valery Sokolov, an official with the
Nochlega non-government organization that takes care of the
homeless.

"I once worked for the KGB just like (Russian President
Vladimir) Putin and I voted for his party, United Russia," a
bearded man told AFP Sunday.

Putin, a native of Saint Petersburg, worked for the Russian
secret service before hanging up his spy hat and joining the
administration of former Saint Petersburg mayor Anatoly
Sobchak, his university mentor.

"I am for a strong state. I know the KGB men and they are
good people," said another homeless man, Venyamin.

"You have to vote," sighed 36-year-old Andrei. "I don't
really understand why, but you have to. And I will vote for
Putin's party, I don't know the others."

United Russia, supported by Putin, dominated the outgoing
Duma and is expected to receive a decisive majority in the
new chamber.

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