It’s early March, two weeks before Russia’s polling day, but the presidential election season is already in full swing in Chubulga, a reindeer-herding settlement in north-eastern Yakutia. It’s an hour’s flight to the nearest village, which is itself a further two hours from the nearest asphalt road and 5,000km east of Moscow.
With a population of just three, this district is unlikely to turn the electoral tide. But with election officials desperate to raise turnout and show support for current president Vladimir Putin, no expense has been spared.
So they sent a team of election officials by plane, plus some trudging through the snow. And this:
Results differ across regions. Some areas allegedly concoct results to show their loyalty to the Kremlin: Putin regularly polls above 99 per cent in Chechnya. In major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, Putin is so unpopular among the middle class that he wins less than half the vote, despite accusations of voter fraud. In Yakutia, Putin’s last election return of 69 per cent was typical for Russia’s far-flung provinces. But the region’s vastness means that the key is maintaining the 75 per cent turnout. As a result, officials have to go further than anywhere else to show democracy in action.