Voter turnout in the Russian presidential election in Belgium was nearly 50% above the 2012 level, with 2,250 ballots cast on Sunday, the head of the district election commission at the Russian embassy in Belgium, Dmitry Borodin, told TASS.
"At two polling stations in Belgium - at the Russian embassy in Brussels and the General Consulate in Antwerp - 2,248 expressed their will. Vladimir Putin placed first with 1,630 votes, Ksenia Sobchak, second, with 202 votes, and Pavel Grudinin, third. In the previous presidential election 1,700 Russian citizens voted in Belgium.
Interviewed at the polling station in Brussels by a TASS correspondent, the executive secretary of the Belgian federation of Russian-speaking organizations, Sergey Petrosov, explained the reasons for the high turnout. "Most Russian compatriots have relatives and friends in their home country. They keep in touch with them and often come home. We see the real state of affairs in the country. The wish to support Russia and to experience the sense of belonging has merely grown over the years," he said.
"The latest row British politicians and media triggered over the suspicious poisoning of an ex-spy in Salisbury was the last drop that caused the cup of patience of many Russians to overflow. This concerns even those who had to drive an hour or an hour and a half to Brussels or Antwerp. I’m not at all surprised over the record-high turnout," Petrosov said.
The line to the polling station could be seen throughout the election day. Waiting time ranged from twenty minutes to one hour, but nobody expressed discontent or impatience. The climate at the polling stations was festive. Two monitors from Ksenia Sobchak’s election team kept an eye on the voting and vote counting procedure. No violations were exposed.
An overwhelming majority of Russians resident in Slovenia (71.7%) cast their ballots for the incumbent president, Vladimir Putin. One hundred percent of the votes have been counted, the chairman of the electoral commission in Ljubljana, Galina Zamyatina, told TASS on Monday.
The candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Pavel Grudinin, was second with 10.5%, Ksenia Sobchak, of the Civil Initiative party, third with 8.1%. Grigory Yavlinsky, of the Yabloko Party, followed with 4.7%, Boris Titov, of the Party of Growth, with 2.1%, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, of the Liberal Democratic Party, with 0.9%, Sergei Baburin, of the Russian All-People’s Union, with 0.9%, and Maksim Suraikin, of the Communists of Russia, with 0.2%.
The turnout in Slovenia was 81.4%. A total of 533 Russians cast their ballots.
Nearly 4,000 in Britain took part in the Russian presidential election last Sunday. Polling stations were open in London and Edinburgh.
By tradition an overwhelming majority used their electoral rights in the British capital. "A total of 3,678 Russians voted at the polling station at the Russian embassy on Sunday, said a Russian diplomat, member of the district election commission.
He said that the turnout for this election was "similar to the one registered in 2012."
"Those eager to vote in the presidential election always outnumber voters in parliamentary elections," he said.
In 2016, more than 1,600 in Britain participated in the State Duma election, while in the 2012 presidential election nearly 4,000 came to the polls.
At the general consulate in the capital of Scotland 256 voters participated in the election, a member of the district election commission, Aleksey Kulakov told TASS. "No incidents occurred and the turnout was high."
The voting was held amid tighter security measures. The diplomatic scandal between London and Moscow after the March 4 poisoning in Salisbury of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, convicted in Russia for spying, and his daughter Yulia drew higher, in some cases, unduly exaggerated attention to Russian diplomatic offices.
On the eve of the elections diplomats were getting messages with threats and insults. However, this had no effect on the voters’ wish to participate in the election. On the contrary, many of the participants in the voting told TASS that the latest accusations by the British authorities towards Russia in connection with the poisoning of the Skripals, which Moscow strongly denies, merely added to their determination to go and vote.
Earlier, on March 10, advance voting in the Russian presidential election was for the first time held in Northern Ireland. Some fifty men and women voted in Belfast.
More than 6,300 Russian citizens voted in the Russian presidential election in France and Monaco, the chairman of the district election commission at the Russian embassy in Paris, Artyom Studennikov, said on Sunday evening.
"The turnout in Paris was 3,848 and in the rest of France and Monaco, 2,505 - 6353 all in all," he said.
"The turnout was approximately at the 2012 level - two dozen voters more," he said. "As for the 2016 parliamentary election, 2,081 then expressed their will. In other words, the current rate is exceptionally high," Studennikov said.
He described the voting as "calm and well-organized."
"Not a single incident or serious critical remark from the voters or monitors. All those who wished to vote did vote," he added.
The voting in the Russian presidential election in Paris took place amid high security. The election commission’s chairman has told TASS "the Russian embassy had asked the French partners to ensure the maximum security around the diplomatic mission in view of the situation in the world and in France in particular." Police cars were placed around the embassy and police patrols were on duty at the entrance.
Among those who voted in Paris were widow of author Aleksandr Solzhenitsin Nataliya, French film actor Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu, clothes designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev, ambassador to France Aleksei Meshkov and Prince Aleksandr Trubetskoi.
The Russian embassy’s press attache in France Anna Shlychkova said Russian Baroness Irina Von Dreyer, 102, voted in Megeve.
Eight polling stations were open in France on election day. Russian citizens could vote in Paris, Strasbourg, Marseille, Lyons, Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Villfrenche sur Mere. Russians residing in Monaco could vote at the general consulate in Monte Carlo.
More than 1,500 Russians went to the polls in Norway. As the election commission created at the Russian embassy in Oslo has told TASS, about 900 Russians - thrice more than in the State Duma elections in 2016 - cast their ballots.
On the election day Russian citizens in Norway were able to vote not only at the embassy in Oslo, but also at Russia’s general consulates in Kirkenes - a small Norwegian town several kilometers away from the border with Russia, and in the Russian community of Barentsburg, on Spitzbergen, in the Arctic. As TASS has been told by Russian diplomats, 151 voted in Kirkenes and 124 in Barentsburg. Another several hundred votes were cast earlier this week at mobile polling desks in Alta, Bergen, Bodo, Longyearbyen, Stavanger and Trondheim.
"We are very glad a large group of Russian athletes participating in the World Biathlon Cup despite their tight schedule and forthcoming competitions here, in Norway, came to the embassy and voted in the Russian presidential election," Russia’s ambassador to Norway Teimuraz Ramishvili, has told TASS.