On March 18 Vladimir Putin was re-elected as Russia's president for the next six years. Sputnik discussed the election with Dimitri de Kochko, a French journalist who observed the vote in Irkutsk.
Sputnik: Please, tell us about your experience as an observer at the Russian presidential elections. What is your impression about it?
Dimitri de Kochko: I have experience observing French electoral commissions, in Russia I have already monitored one election, it was for the parliament, and I was present there as a journalist for other elections. So I know a little about how the system works and what changes have [taken place] in the last years and since 2012. This time I was in Irkutsk and I must say it was quite interesting to see how the elections were going there. I would say everything was very quiet, there's a lot of technology involved, much more than we have in France, so that is very interesting.
I was also very interested and surprised by the participation, which was higher, starting in the morning there were two to three more people in the morning than in 2012, I didn't expect that because our press in France and other Western countries was writing and saying that everything was planned in advance, nobody will vote and people are not really interested. That is not true, people have voted, the participation was not bad, at least as much as we had during the last Presidential elections in France.
I was surprised by the fact that many young people have voted; I have been told in Irkutsk itself and in other parts of Russia, of course, but in Irkutsk at least, just a day before the election that young people won't vote because they are not interested in politics and they are not interested in anything except shopping and laughs, that's not true either.
Sputnik: What do election observers to actually; what's an observers routine? What is an observer supposed to do?
Dimitri de Kochko: There are different observers, but I will tell about myself: in Irkutsk in different polls where I have been there are, first of all, I would say the main observers, the most important observers form the political parties who have candidates, and in Irkutsk I noticed there were at least three or four observers like that, there was always one for Putin, of course, because he has the most supporters so it is easier to find observers everywhere, the second one was from the Communist party, they had observers in nearly all the venues, and then Yavlinsky, there were a lot of observers of Yavlinsky, he's from the opposition party and they were quite serious, quite careful with everything. Sometimes there was one more observer from another candidate and there were also observers from the social chamber of Russia; I myself was one of the international observers on the line of associations and NGO's which were covered by the Duma, and there were observers from the OSCE. I've met one in Irkutsk, they were quite discrete, but they were everywhere, in many cities.
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