Russian privately held oil producer Lukoil has extended a helping hand to authorities in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad by arranging an early cast of votes among offshore personnel of the company and its contractors in the Baltic Sea.
All 28 employees on duty on the Lukoil-operated D-6 production platform had no choice but to mark their choice of candidates for the country’s lower chamber of the parliament, the Duma, on 16 September, according to local media reports.
The ballots and ballot boxes were delivered to the platform by a helicopter, underscoring Lukoil’s apparent willingness to avoid any confrontation with regional authorities, struggling to demonstrate their adherence to the Kremlin’s strong push for ruling party United Russia to maintain a majority.
Besides the D-6 platform, voting ballots have been delivered to dozens of vessels in the Kaliningrad-controlled part of the Baltic Sea, with more than 1500 people reported to have voted offshore.
The voting exercise was widely publicised in the local media in a poorly disguised attempt by regional authorities to motivate more people to come to polling stations during the official voting period between 17 September and 19 September.
The en masse vote-casting was once a popular visual tool of Soviet propagandists to depict wide popular support to Soviet Communist Party leaders.
Despite the option for Russians to cast personal votes online, the offshore voting act has demonstrated that old habits are returning fast in the country where freedoms and democratic rights are under increasing attack.