Putin's United Russia looks to soldiers for votes

MOSCOW Fri Dec 2, 2011 1:22am IST

New Russian draftees sit during a ceremony to celebrate ''Recruit Day'' in the southern Russian city of Stavropol November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko/Files

New Russian draftees sit during a ceremony to celebrate ''Recruit Day'' in the southern Russian city of Stavropol November 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko/Files

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian officers have been ordered to wake soldiers with "pleasant music" before they go to vote on Sunday in parliamentary elections, and to encourage them to watch state television.

Russia's one-million strong military is a traditional stronghold for ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, which is expected to see its parliamentary majority cut and will be counting on the military vote.

Scattered across Russia, the military can make or break a party's performance, especially in the scarcely populated Siberian and Far East regions.

Newspaper Izvestia reported on Thursday that officials at the Defence Ministry visited barracks across Russia before elections, advising officers to feed soldiers with a "celebratory breakfast" before letting them go off to the polls.

Izvestia, citing unnamed sources, said no orders were given, only suggestions. Both Defence Ministry and army spokesmen were unavailable to comment on Thursday.

State TV is dominated by coverage of the Kremlin and the country's top leaders.

A poll published last week showed United Russia was likely to receive 252-253 places in the 450 seat parliament, down from the 315 it currently holds.

In what has been seen by some analysts as an attempt to court the military vote, Moscow has promised to boost defence spending to 20 trillion roubles through 2020.

While some soldiers may vote for the nationalist-minded Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which polls show as gaining the third largest number of votes in Sunday's vote, most will back United Russia, analysts say.

"The army is a well-controlled, conservative, patriotic institution, and Putin is seen as a (security forces officer) who impresses officers and embodies the understanding of a professional soldier and a good leader," said Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of CAST's Moscow Defence Brief magazine.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; editing by Andrew Roche)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Gaza Conflict

WORLD SHOWCASE

Torture by CIA

Torture by CIA

Obama says that after 9/11, 'we tortured some folks'.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

African leaders agree steps to fight runaway Ebola outbreak.  Full Article 

Opponent Freed

Opponent Freed

Putin opponent sought by Russia released from custody in Bulgaria.  Full Article 

Russia Threat

Russia Threat

NATO must change to better repel Russian threat - UK's Cameron.  Full Article 

MH17 Crash

MH17 Crash

Experts recover human remains at Ukraine crash site despite new fighting  Full Article 

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

How Iran sanctions fears hurt humanitarian trade  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

WHO chief says Ebola out of control but can be stopped  Full Article 

Graft in China

Graft in China

Exclusive - China's Xi likely to promote army general who exposed graft: sources  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage