Home Brussels Hundreds line up at Russia’s embassy in Brussels to vote against Putin

Hundreds line up at Russia’s embassy in Brussels to vote against Putin

by editor

Some 400 to 500 people queued at the Russian embassy in Brussels on Sunday to vote in Russia’s presidential election, most of them participating in the “Noon Against Putin” protest action called by opposition groups.

While President Vladimir Putin is certain to win the vote, Russians in the capital of the EU were doing their part to show their distaste for the leader who has spent years cracking down on all forms of dissent against his rule.

“I came here to vote. To vote against Putin,” said Olga, who brought along her family. “The action is a pure demonstration of disagreement with what is happening in our country,” she said.

The “Noon Against Putin” initiative, supported by virtually all Russian opposition groups as well as the late Alexei Navalny, encouraged voters to go to polling stations, whether in Russia or abroad, at noon on Sunday and vote for any of the non-Putin candidates or spoil the ballot.

It contributed to a backup at the embassy in Brussels.

“Get ready to wait at least 40 minutes more. We didn’t expect that amount of people,” an embassy employee told POLITICO after people had already spent 30 minutes in the queue.

Denis Leven/POLITICO

People were openly happy and inspired to come together with so many others who shared their dissenting views. Many of them were taking selfies, showing themselves in the 200-meter line.

“I have no ‘my candidates’ on the list,” said Kirill, who described himself as a Russian poet-in-exile. “Still, it is very important to get here to establish connections [with other opposition-minded Russians],” he said.

“I can see people sending photos of spoiled ballots with different mottos on them. That is very important,” said Kirill, who came to vote with his partner, child and their dog. “We’re all in a situation where we have to redefine some agendas. And I think that’s what this election is for,” he said.

Putin, first elected president in 2000, has spent the better part of two decades clamping down on opposition and tightening his grip over Russian society. Moscow’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022 sparked even greater domestic repression.

“The ‘Noon Against Putin’ is a good way of protesting,” said Sergey, a Russian political analyst, while he waited to cast his vote.

“At the very least, we met like-minded people. In a situation where people no longer believe anything or anyone and are at the lowest point of disillusionment in decades, this is a big deal,” Sergey said.

Denis Leven is hosted at POLITICO under the EU-funded EU4FreeMedia residency program.

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