Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

In Canada, the opposition to Putin makes its voice heard | War in Ukraine

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Lada Iskanderova (left) and Olga Babina (right), two Russian citizens established in Canada, will vote Sunday in Montreal.

  • Myriam Boulianne (View profile)Myriam Boulianne

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While Russians voted on Saturday on the second day of the presidential election, which should allow Vladimir Putin to obtain a new six-year term in the Kremlin, Russian citizens established in Canada will go to the polls on Sunday to make their voices heard … often dissenting.

Vladimir Putin represents the complete opposite of democracy. It represents war. In an interview, Anya Nonnenman does not mince her words towards the Russian president. Indeed, for her, the situation is serious, particularly after the two years of war in Ukraine and the recent death of dissident Alexeï Navalny.

Even if we already know the result, it is our right to vote. People need to know that we are not afraid to express our disagreement with the Russian president, explains the 25-year-old.

The name of Alexeï Navalny, the Russian opponent who died on February 16 in obscure circumstances in a penal colony in the Arctic, is also on the lips of all anti-Russian voters. Putin installed in Canada.

If he had been on the ballot, I would have voted for him, continues this Russian citizen who lives in Montreal.

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Anya Nonnenman, a Russian citizen based in Montreal, will vote for the first time in Russian elections on Sunday.

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Same thing for Ilia Rakov. This adopted Montrealer immigrated to the country 27 years ago, having sworn to turn his back on his native country, but the events of recent years prevented him from doing so.

If it had been possible, I would have voted for Navalny. But now there is no other option [than Putin]. It's not an election, it's a ritual for a dictator, he says, adding that he will not go to the polls on Sunday.

The outgoing president faces three candidates without scope who oppose neither the offensive in Ukraine nor the repression which has eradicated all citizen and political opposition in this country of 143 million inhabitants.

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With this election, Vladimir Putin, 71, will remain in power until 2030. (Archive photo )

Voting began at 8 a.m. (local time) on Friday on the Kamchatka Peninsula and Chukotka, two remote regions in Russia's Far East. It will end on Sunday at 8 p.m. in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave bordering the European Union.

In Canada, Russian citizens are invited to vote at the consulates general of the Russian Federation in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto starting Sunday noon.

Lada Iskanerova, who lives in Winnipeg, also came to the Quebec metropolis to exercise her right to vote. I hope, through my vote against Putin, to show the world that these elections are illegitimate, she explains.

At his side, his compatriot and activist Olga Babina sees things the same way.

It is very important to show that there are Russians against the war, against Putin. I have the privilege of living in Canada and I must amplify the voices of people in Russia, who unfortunately cannot express themselves.

A quote from Olga Babina, co-founder of the #x27;Democratic Alliance of Russian Canadians

In the Canadian capital, Valeriia Zholobova believes that even if her vote will not have an effect on the results of the election, remaining silent is worse. What is happening in Russia is a tragedy. […] It's one of the worst [political] regimes you've known since Stalin, denounces this Russian citizen.

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Valeriia Zhobolova is a Russian citizen who lives in Ottawa.

However, according to Yann Breault, assistant professor of international political studies at the Royal Military College of Saint-Jean, the Russian community is more polarized than one might think, both in Russia and in Canada.

Even in Canada, the Russian community is very divided. There are people who continue to believe that Putin is still the man for the job.

A quote from Yann Breault, assistant professor of international political studies at the Royal Military College of Saint-Jean

Even if the outcome of the vote is known in advance, Mr. Breault nevertheless has doubts about the transparency of the results that will be communicated.

Since 2022, with the war, there have been very strong restrictions on those who expressed opinions contrary to those of the Kremlin. [It is difficult to know] what is the extent of the population's support for the president, underlines this Russia specialist.

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The surroundings of the Kremlin, in Moscow (Archive photo)

For example, if we were to have a Russian diaspora in Montreal which was overwhelmingly opposed to Vladimir Putin with figures that would be embarrassing for those in power, could we completely disguise them this time? It's not impossible, he continues.

On the eve of the presidential election, Vladimir Putin, 71 years old, 24 of whom have been in power, urged his compatriots not to turn away from the path in these difficult times, an allusion to the consequences of the assault he has launched against Ukraine more than two years ago.

With this election, he will remain in power until 2030 and will be able to run again to remain in charge until 2036, the year he turns 84. He had also had the Constitution revised for this purpose in 2020.

With information from Elyse Allard and l'Agence France-Presse

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