Elections in Russia took place over the weekend and, as was widely predicted, the vote ended in a victory for Vladimir Putin.
Thousands of Russians were also permitted to vote abroad. One of the most unusual places where they cast ballots was in Pyongyang, where electoral station 8163 was organized by the embassy and in Chongjin, where poll station 8164 was run by the local consulate.
As the embassy reported, the electorate in Pyongyang was composed of diplomats, their families, and Vladimir Lee – the only Russian citizen to permanently reside in the DPRK.
In Chongjin, in addition to the staff of the Russian consulate, 55 employees of Rajin’s RasonConTrans JV – which oversees DPRK-Russia coal trade – participated in the elections.
Notably, no exchange students participated in the elections, suggesting that, as of now, there are no Russian citizens studying in Pyongyang.
The embassy claims that station 8163 enjoyed a 100.0% turnout, yet official data from the Central Electoral Commission contradicts this, stating that only 111 out of 112 registered voters participated in the elections, making the turnout 99.1%.
The data shows that the Pyongyang commission actually received 115 ballots in case any other Russian citizens turned out to vote, but none did. Out of the 111 who voted, one chose to invalidate their ballot, effectively voting against all the candidates.
Results in Pyongyang largely reflected how Russians voted at home: 88 (79.28%) voted for Vladimir Putin and 12 (10.81%) voted for Pavel Grudinin, the billionaire candidate of the Communist Party.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a scandalous ultranationalist politician, received four votes (3.60%). The celebrity-turned-journalist Kseniya Sobchak won three votes (2.70%), as did Grigory Yavlinsky, who leads the small social democratic party Yabloko.
The other three candidates – Boris Titov (businessman and Chairman of the Growth Party), Sergei Baburin (Former MP from the Communist Party), and Maxim Suraikin (a Stalinist far-left political activist) – received no votes.
Despite Russian law allowing for it, no one voted at home or in advance.
THE VIEW FROM CHONGJIN
Data from Chongjin shows that the turnout was 97.1%.
55 voted outside the consulate – likely employees of RasonConTrans. Since they work in Rajin, 100 kilometers from the consulate, it would be easier for a diplomat to visit them, given the fact that the DPRK generally does not allow moving outside of your city of residence without a permit.
No one invalidated their ballot in Chongjin and, as was the case in the capital, results largely reflected those at home: Putin got 57 votes (85.07%), Grudinin and Zhirinovsky received four each (5.97%) and two voters voted for Sobchak (2.99%). Yavlinsky, Titov, Baburin, and Suraikin received no votes.
MR. LEE CASTS HIS BALLOT
Perhaps the most unusual voter was Vladimir Lee – a man from Wonsan who is the only Russian citizen to permanently reside in the DPRK.
Lee was something of a legendary character among Soviet and, later, Russian diplomats, and the embassy has recently shared more details about his life.
His father was a North Korean who worked in the USSR in Kamchatka in the 1950s. He married a Soviet woman and the couple moved to Wonsan. They had sons, one of whom was Vladimir. After the father passed away, the family decided to move back to the Soviet Union, but Vladimir, who by that time had begun dating an actress from the Wonsan theatre, decided to stay.
He had two sons, who later moved to Russia. His mother passed away in 2015 and he recently visited Russia to pay his respects.
Sources have told NK News that his Korean name is Ri Tong Guk (리동국) and that one of his two sons served in the Russian army and currently resides in Sochi.
Despite his minor celebrity status, Lee did not make public who he voted for, according to the embassy.
“But he stated that he voted for a strong and prosperous Russia, the country where his sons and brothers live.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Russian embassy in the DPRK
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