From the DailyBeast by Anna Nemtsova:
The draft beer taps danced in the bartenders’ hands at Manneken Pis, a Belgian café on the Petrogradskaya Side, one of the oldest and most sophisticated neighborhoods of St. Petersburg. On the eve of the presidential election, Vladimir Putin’s hometown peacefully enjoyed its Saturday night—no matter what the Kremlin decided, life in Piter, as locals call it, was languid and peaceful.
Petersburgers had no doubts that President Putin would get his fourth term, and indeed as Russians voted on Sunday there was no question about that in anyone’s mind. Early returns showed him with more than 70 percent of the vote. But St. Petersburg had one of poorest turnouts in the country. The local intelligentsia here brushed away the thought, confident in their political apathy, feeling irritated even by the word “election,” as by some useless waste of time. Most people The Daily Beast interviewed were either planning to spoil their ballot or not vote at all.
Indeed, this graceful city that knows Putin so well is trying its best to feel detached from Moscow’s hustle, to live in a reality that has little to do with the president these days. A well-known historian, Lev Lurye, described St. Petersburg as “the most European” Russian city: “To have a good time, an average Petersburger prefers to go to Finland, rather than to Moscow. Europe is closer.”
Categories: Russian History