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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

From Boston to Beijing, Russians Go to the Polls

BOSTON -- From soldiers to academics and businessmen, Russian citizens around the world voted along with their countrymen on Sunday.

Embassies said they were busy at the 339 polling stations set up in 140 countries. The Foreign Ministry said 1.17 million expatriates were eligible to vote.

Turnout figures differed greatly, from 58 percent at the embassy in Beijing, where 616 people out of 1,058 showed up, to only 300 voters in London by 2 p.m. and about 1,000 in Germany by noon.

Some Russians did not vote due to apathy or the difficulty of getting to a polling station.

Pavel Berloff, a mathematician living in Cambridge, England, said he did not participate because the nearest polling station, in London, was too far away. If he had voted, he said he would have plumped for the Homeland bloc and its anti-oligarch platform as the "least-worst" option.

In Boston, voters struggled through snow-covered streets to cast ballots at St. James Catholic Church in the city's Chinatown, where New York's Russian Consulate and the Russian-American Cultural Center had set up a single ballot box in a church hall.

Votes from U.S.-based Russians go for St. Petersburg District No. 209, where Union of Right Forces co-leader Irina Khakamada is facing off with State Duma Speaker and Russia's Rebirth-Party of Life bloc co-leader Gennady Seleznyov.

Unlike in Russia, where voting started at 8 a.m., the Boston voters had to wait until Sunday's service was over at noon to cast their ballots.

The informal polling station did look very much like those in Russia except for a huge crucifix spread above the tables where local election officials sat.

Many of the voters polled as they left seemed to be heavily favoring the liberals.

"Yabloko is the only liberal party that acts consistently and does not play games with the government," said Inessa Arsentyeva, a computer programmer from St. Petersburg who has lived in the United States for seven years. She said her friends voted for Yabloko, as well.

Irina Golubchik, a resident of Lynn, Massachusetts, said she had marshaled all her Russian friends to vote for Khakamada, whom she knows personally.

Irina Lebedeva, a journalist in St. Petersburg before settling in Boston two years ago, was a rare dissent in the expats' liberal chorus.

"I voted for Seleznyov. I worked with him long ago and know him as more or less an honest man," she said, adding that she also had voted for Homeland.

Staff Writer Kevin O'Flynn contributed to this report.

See also Election Special 2003