Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 140

Valentina Matvienko, head of a Russian Ministry section for relations with federation regions and public organizations and movements, has told a Moscow briefing that Russian citizens residing in the "near abroad" fear persecution by local authorities if they take part in next month’s elections to Russia’s Duma. Matvienko provided no substantiation beyond complaining that in many cases polling stations are too far away to be reached by Russian voters, and that it was difficult to obtain authorization for polling stations for Black Sea Fleet sailors in Ukraine and the large Russian community in Narva, Estonia. A total of 350 stations are to be created for the approximately 400,000 qualified Russian voters living primarily in Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, as well as in Germany and Israel.

Almost as Matvienko was speaking, Estonian prime minister Tiit Vahi announced that his government had approved the Russian Duma’s request to open polling stations in Tallin and Narva. But Vahi said he is "under no illusion" that Moscow would meet his reciprocal request for a list of Russian citizens, thought to number about 80,000, who live in Estonia. In Crimea, Ukrainian and local authorities confirmed their earlier announcement that 19 polling stations are being set up for Black Sea Fleet sailors and the estimated 10,000 civilian Russian citizens residing in Crimea. "Red-brown" Russian candidates, including the weekly Zavtra’s chief editor Aleksandr Prokhanov, freely agitate in Sevastopol for the reconstitution of the USSR and against "colonial dependence on the West." (12) Expatriate civilians and military personnel in the "near abroad" are more likely on average to vote for Russian nationalist and communist candidates than their compatriots at home.

Ukraine, Latvia Envision Common Economic Space.