After casting their votes,they drank tea and ate candy while they discussed the elections and caught up with friends.
Russians choose 450 deputies – from 3,000 candidates – to the State Duma,the lower house of the national parliament. For the first time,parliamentary candidates were elected for five years – the term was extended for one more year.
Marianna Pankova,36,who teaches German at Georgetown University in Washington,came to the elections with her little son Andrei,2.
“We hope that something will change,” Pankova said. “Even if we live in the United States,we are still interested in the future of Russia.”
The ballot included seven registered parties: Just Russia,Liberal Democratic,Patriots of Russia,Communist,Yabloko,United Russia and Right Cause.
Parties that received at least 7 percent of the vote will get about that percentage of seats in the Duma. Under new rules,a party with 5 percent of votes receives one seat,and a party with 6 percent receives two.
Voting abroad took place in 145 countries.
Yevgeniy Khorishko,a member of the Election Commission and a press officer at the Russian Embassy,said there were five main election commissions in the United States,situated in the Russian consular offices.
The election stations were also open in 14 other cities where there are many Russian citizens,including New York,Boston,Dallas and Los Angeles.
“In order to take part in the parliamentary elections,a citizen of Russian Federation should have a Russian inner passport or foreign passport,” Sergey Kislyak,Russian ambassador to the U.S.,said.
Kislyak said the order of voting and a type of ballots are the same as in Russia.
“The Embassy is a little piece of Russia here,” Kislyak said.
At 8 p.m. the election commission ended its work and counted results.
The results were sent to the Election Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia,Khorishko said.
Some of voters who came to the Russian Embassy Sunday were optimistic about the future of Russia,and others thought change is unlikely.
“Whatever is the result,I have a feeling,that something should change,” Alexander Potemkin,executive director at the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation in Washington,said.
Yuri Loboda,78,of Washington,said he came to vote,but he doesn’t believe it will help. The retired airplane builder came to the U.S. to be near his grandchildren.
“You will not grasp Russia with your mind,or cover with a common label,for Russia is one of a kind – believe in her,if you are able,” Loboda said,quoting a poem of Fyodor Tyutchev,a famous Russian poet,meaning that it’s impossible to understand Russia by logic.
In total,1,346 people voted Sunday at elections stations in Washington,Cleveland,Chicago and Miami,Khorishko said.
Khorishko announced the results of the elections Monday.
The Yabloko party got the most votes – 404. United Russia was second with 302 votes,followed by the Communist Party,256; Just Russia,222; Liberal Democratic party, 94; Right Cause,27; and Patriots of Russia,19.
In Russia,preliminary results gave the most votes to United Russia,the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev,49.5 percent,less than expected.
The Communist Party was second with 19.2 percent,followed by Just Russia with 12.2 percent and the Liberal Democratic Party with 11.7 percent.
Parties polling under the threshold for winning seats were Yabloko with 3.3 percent,Patriots of Russia with 0.97 percent and Right Cause with 0.59 percent.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Counsel of Europe recognized the parliamentary elections in Russia. However,the observers noted the elections had “limited political competition and a lack of fairness.”
Reach reporter Lyudmila Tsubiks at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.