Russian voters share concerns in predictable poll

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Moscow (AFP)

From frustration with corruption and poverty to Moscow's showdown with the West, Russians shared their concerns as they voted in Sunday's presidential election that is set to extend President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin term to 2024.

"Of course I'm for Putin, he's a leader," said Olga Matyunina, a 65-year-old retired economist.

"After he brought Crimea back, he became a hero to me. Last election I didn't vote for Putin. These last three or four years we've had sanctions but we've built a lot, we've opened a lot of new factories, inflation is low."

"I am for Putin. There is no alternative to him," said Valentina Popova, a 77-year-old Moscow retiree.

"I respect him for his foreign policies, otherwise Russia would perish. There's a lot that needs to be done inside the country."

Natalya Kononova, 41, a senior cashier, Moscow: "I am for Putin. We trust him. And voting is my civic duty."

Iraida Korablina, 67, Moscow: "I am for Putin. The foreign polices are correct although inside the country a camarilla is calling the shots."

- Istra votes Putin -

Andrei Zubov, 42, the town of Istra some 60 kilometres northwest of Moscow: "Normal life and business only began under Putin. Isolation is not a threat to Russia and is even a boon for the development of our own market."

Lyudmila Shuda, a 66-old retiree, Istra: "On the whole he is pushing through the right policies. He is warning the West that they better be nice to us."

Valeriya Ivanova, 23, Istra: "Of course, my husband and me voted for Putin. How would we live without him? It's scary! He is our trusted guy and he can defend us."

Sergei Stalnov, 46, a car mechanic, Istra: "He got Russia off its knees. Finally they started to listen to us."

- 'Things get worse' -

Sergei Yakovlev, 47, Saint Petersburg: "I am not expecting anything good. I voted for (Communist candidate Pavel) Grudinin, but it's clear that it'll be Putin. He has no programme of action, things keep getting worse. He will keep sitting on oil reserves without changing anything until everything ultimately disintegrates in every area."

Antonina Kurchatova, 40, Saint Petersburg: "I voted Putin. But with a different feeling unlike before. Right now I am hoping that things just don't get worse. I very much like his foreign policies, he's doing everything right, but as far as the economy is concerned, everything is terrible. I am eagerly awaiting constructive economic measures and a change of government."

Lilia Kartashova, 70, Saint Petersburg: "Only Putin. I am expecting only good things. Remember what kind of country he took over from (Boris) Yeltsin -- ruin, no one respected us and now? He is doing everything right.

"Only the government needs to be kicked out -- especially (Dimitry) Medvedev. What kind of prime minister is he? He is a laughingstock."

- 'Other candidates clowns' -

Boris Limarev, a 39-year-old manager, Saint Petersburg: "I will not go to vote. What for? It's clear to everyone who will be elected. That's why there's no desire to vote, there's a feeling nothing depends on you."

His wife Anna Limareva, a 35-year-old hairdresser: "I am very disappointed by what has been going on lately. That is why I don't want to vote for Putin. And the rest of the candidates are clowns."

burs-as/oc/pg