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Russian presidential election: in Istanbul, thousands of “anti-Putin exiles” vote without illusions

"We want to complicate Putin"s task": à Istanbul, where tens of thousands of Russians have found themselves refuge, a long queue brings together on Sunday, in front of the Russian consulate, young exiles who have come to vote and denounce the control of the master of the Kremlin.

The queue on Istiklal Avenue, the city's main pedestrian artery, stretched over 400 meters at the start of the afternoon, AFP noted.

Most arrived at noon, the time at which the opposition called to come and honor the memory of the late opponent Alexeï Navalny and denounce a presidential election tailor-made for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Elena and Yuri have no hope that their vote will change the situation, but “we want to complicate Putin's task”, smiles the young man who, like all the others in the long queue, refuses to give his vote. last name.

His girlfriend wears a yellow scarf, he wears a yellow k-way. “It’s political, it’s the color of Ukraine,” she explains in unaccented English.

The couple, originally from Moscow, fled Russia in December 2022, and has since lived in several European countries, including Serbia and Montenegro. Before settling down in Turkey, where 100,000 Russians live according to official figures.

“It was becoming complicated to live in a country where people don't think like you” , slips Yuri, who works remotely in IT.

Vadim, 31, was living in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, when the war broke out.

“I am Russian but my wife is Ukrainian” , explains the thirty-year-old, long blonde lock sticking out of his cap, originally from Penza, southeast of Moscow.

“I was upset when Navalny was killed, I cried,” he confides. “That’s why I came here at noon.”

“But this election is a hoax,” he adds immediately, resignedly.

– “A killer” –

Russian presidential election: in Istanbul, thousands of “anti-Putin exiles” vote without illusions

Russian voters in front of the Russian consulate in Istanbul on March 17, 2024 © AFP – BULENT KILIC

Stas, 29 years old, waits 200 meters further down, in a cobbled street extending Istiklal Avenue.

“Putin is not not my president. He's a terrorist, a killer,” he says, accompanied by two other friends with whom he fled Saint Petersburg six months after the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022.

“I have a baby who was born on February 1, 2022 and I want him to grow up in a peaceful country”, explains the one who describes himself as an “anti-Putin exile”.

His friend Evgeny, 32, who like him works for a Russian online sales site, is worried about leaves his family remaining in Belgorod, a Russian town near the border with Ukraine and regularly targeted by Ukrainian forces.

“Maybe this will change “of some people's opinion regarding the war in Ukraine”, he hopes.

A taxi driver stops next to them, intrigued by the long queue. “Ah, the elections in Russia… Who is facing Putin ?”, he asks in Turkish.

Then he turns to the young Russians, and improvises two sentences in Russian before leaving. What did he say? “He said that Putin is a good guy and that Zelensky is a dog”, reply Stas and his friend Evgeny with one voice.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116