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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Homeless Courted for Votes

The Central Elections Commission is hammering out plans to increase voter turnout among the homeless in upcoming State Duma and presidential elections, an election official said Tuesday.

Homeless people and other eligible voters without registration stamps in their internal passports will have to show up at a regular polling station two to three days before election day to submit a written request to cast a ballot, commission member Nina Kulyasova said at a news conference.

There will also be 15 special polling stations set up nationwide for all eligible voters without registration, Kulyasova said, up from nine such polling stations in previous national elections.

These polling stations will be available for other categories of voters without registration as well, including those who live abroad but are in Russia on election day and those who have a home but no legal registration, Kulyasova said.

More than 142,000 identified themselves as homeless in the most recent census, in 2002. Election officials have put the number of eligible voters without registration at 5 million.

Several homeless people said Tuesday that they intended to cast ballots in the Dec. 2 Duma elections and the presidential vote in March.

Most of the middle-aged and elderly homeless interviewed said their lives were better in the Soviet Union and that they planned to vote for the Communists.

"Under Communist rule, I was happy working as a driver," said Ashot Sarkisyan, 45, who lives at a construction site near Belorussky Station. "Now I'm homeless."

Natalya, 80, said she makes ends meet by collecting aluminum cans. She said would vote for the Communists in the Duma elections and for Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov in the presidential election.

"Zyuganov is a great man," said Natalya, who declined to give her last name. "He is the only person who can save this country,"

She described other parties as "fascist" and said she would not vote for them, "even if they told me I would become an empress."

Others said they would back pro-Kremlin party United Russia, whose federal ticket is being headed up by President Vladimir Putin, all but assuring a landslide victory in the Duma elections.

"I'll probably vote United Russia," said Alexei, 46, outside the Praga cinema, in northern Moscow. "I am sure something will change for the better."

Alexei, who would not give his last name, declined to elaborate.

Anatoly Yevstigneyev, 37, said he was a supporter of flamboyant ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party.

"I'll vote for the LDPR and Volodka Zhirinovsky," Yevstigneyev said. "I like him. He is a real man."

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Alexei, 46

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Ashot Sarkisyan, 45

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Anatoly Yevstigneyev, 37

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Natalya, 80