Only 10% of Russians in Finland voted for Putin, exit poll says

A protest outside the Russian Embassy in Helsinki on Sunday. The caption reads: “These are not elections”. (Tanja Heino / Yle)

Only 10 percent of Russian citizens in Finland told an online exit poll that they voted for President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s weekend election.

Putin secured a fifth term in office following a landslide victory in what many observers called a sham election.

The exit poll also revealed that 44 percent of respondents said they voted for Vladislav Davankov, chair of the New People party, while one in five said they spoiled their vote and just under a quarter refused to say who they voted for.

According to the poll’s figures, 3,384 people voted at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki on Sunday, with about 79 percent answering the questionnaire.

The exit poll results suggest the anti-Putin opposition candidates were popular among Russian voters in Finland. Some opposition leaders had encouraged people to vote for Davankov as the least worst option, while others had urged voters to tamper with the ballot boxes.

Official results suggest 1-in-3 opted for Putin

The results of the votes cast at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki were officially announced on Monday evening, revealing that Putin received just 32.67 percent support from Russians in Finland.

Davankov meanwhile received 45.3 percent of the Finnish vote.

The official figures also showed that 649 of the 3,447 ballot papers cast in Helsinki were declared invalid. Spoiling votes was considered by Russians to be used as a form of protest.

During this presidential election, the Russian Embassy in Helsinki was the only polling station available to Russian citizens. In the 2018 presidential election, three other polling stations were open, in Turku, Lappeenranta and Mariehamn.

Strong support for the opposition among Russians in Finland was also highlighted by the very long queue outside the polling station at the Russian Embassy at around midday on Sunday. Opponents of Putin’s rule had called on supporters to fill polling at about noon on Sunday, both in Russia and abroad, as a sign of protest.

People queueing outside the Russian Embassy in Helsinki on Sunday to vote in Russia’s presidential election. (Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva)

Exit poll results vary country-by-country

The exit poll survey was carried out by an independent network of volunteers who have organized similar polls in many other countries, besides Russia.

The results varied widely from one country to another, with 59 percent of Russians in Greece saying they voted for Putin, while just 2 percent said the same in the Netherlands.

Among Finland’s neighbors, 14 percent in Sweden reported voting for Putin, while just 8 percent said they did so in Estonia.

According to official figures, Putin won the election with 87 percent of the vote. However, the vote has been condemned as a “pseudo-election” by Germany and described as neither “free nor fair” by the United States, as Putin faced no credible opposition due to the Kremlin’s tight control over Russia’s political system.

Related stories from around the North: 

CanadaCanada needs ‘goals, a plan and resources’ for Arctic, says expert, The Canadian Press

Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Need to redouble efforts and engagement in Arctic says Greenland strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Faroe Islands: Faroe Islands’ Arctic strategy focuses on security, climate & cooperation, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: It could take 10 days for Hungary to sign off on Sweden’s Nato bid, Radio Sweden

United States: White House releases U.S. Arctic strategy implementation plan, Eye on the Arctic

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