A small group of Russian activists were urging Russian emigres in New York to go against the opposition on the December 4 election by defacing their ballots, challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s attempt to regain that nation’s presidency.
The United Russia party – led by Putin – suffered a huge lose in yesterday’s election amidst controversy of voter interference, though still took a majority of the votes. It’s that kind of outcome that local activists were fighting against by telling eligible Russian expat voters to deface their ballots.
“It is a way of saying, ‘Go to hell’ to those in power,” said Natalia Pelevine in a New York City News Service article.
Pelevine is a Russian activist who formed the Democratic Russia Committee. The group is made up of opposition activists in New York that are leading a protest movement against the Russian elections and Putin’s attempt to regain the presidency. The Democratic Russia Committee was doing this by a technique called “Nacht-Nacht.” The voter marks their ballot with a large X or an offensive phrase. The technique is a longstanding tradition that has been around since the Soviet era.
A week before the election, Pelevine and other activists handed out fliers detailing where to vote and instructions on how to deface the ballots, or even suggesting to vote against the opposition. There are two Russian polling stations in New York, one at the concert hall Millennium Theatre at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue and the other at the Russian Consulate on East 91st street.