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Voters Complain About a Lack of Choice

Voters at polling stations across the city expressed frustration over what they called a lack of meaningful alternatives in Sunday's Moscow City Duma elections, while those with strong preferences said that personalities mattered more to them than principles.

"There are no choices," said Nadezhda Grachyova, a pensioner, as she left Polling Station No. 226 at a school on Leningradsky Prospekt. "They all say they want what's best for the people, but who's going to say they don't?"

Grachyova said she had voted for the centrist Party of Life. "They're nothing as a party, but I know their candidate Irina Rukina personally. She's a good woman," she said.

Many voters seemed to be similarly motivated -- to the clear benefit of United Russia, whose party list is topped by Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

"I voted for our Luzhkov because I want him to stick around," said Irina Pokrovskaya, a woman in her 40s, after she and her husband voted at Polling Station No. 108, a heavily guarded school near the White House.

"Look around the city, you can see what he's done all over the place. New construction, roads -- whatever it is, at least he's doing something," Pokrovskaya said.

Voters passed through two metal detectors to enter that station, where Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov voted. Black-suited security officers patrolled the school, fingers raised to earpieces.

The mood was lighter at other downtown schools. At Polling Station No. 488 on Pervy Khoroshyovsky Proyezd, local elections commissioner Alexander Lazarev, 26, stood smart in his naval officer's uniform and handed out flowers, notebooks and pens to first-time voters.

On Skornyazhny Pereulok, voters emerged from polling stations Nos. 58 and 60 munching meat pies that were sold inside, and children in folk costumes put on a show in a hall. After voting, Yefrosinya Zinchenko, 86, displayed a note she had written to herself so she would not forget for whom to vote.

At School No. 840 in southern Moscow, popular songs from the 1970s blared from loudspeakers while merchants sold clothes from kiosks that had been set up that morning. Maxim Andreyev, a tall elderly man in a worn brown coat and a rabbit-fur hat, stood in the school's lobby studying the boards with the lists of parties and candidates.

"United Russia is Luzhkov, Maxim. He won't let anyone do anything bad to us," said his wife, Svetlana Andreyeva.

"I'm going to vote the Communists, I've voted for Communists for 45 years," Andreyev replied.

Source: The Moscow Times

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