Orthodox monks favour Medvedev
Web posted at: 3/3/2008 11:35:2
Source ::: AFP
SERGIYEV POSAD, Russia As bearded Orthodox
monks queued to vote in Russia's most famous
monastery yesterday, the head of the polling
station a seminary student bent down to kiss their hands.
Dozens of monks, icon painters and seminary
students cast ballots in the vaulted chambers of
a 19th century seminary in the Trinity-Saint
Sergius monastery, 70 kilometres outside Moscow.
The election will almost certainly see the
Kremlin's preferred candidate Dmitry Medvedev, a
convert to Orthodoxy who has had the public
backing of Patriarch Alexy II, become president.
"Most of the students are going to vote for
Medvedev. He favours the church. That means he
also favours God," Alexei Melnikov, 19, a
seminarian wearing a buttoned-up black uniform, said after voting.
"He will create a good society. Our hopes are
with him," he said. As hundreds of faithful made
their way to Sunday services in the swirling snow
outside, Father Savva, a canon law teacher, said
believers would favour Medvedev as he was seen as
more religious than the other candidates.
The choice did not appear so obvious for Yury, an
embittered 69-year-old resident of the northern
city of Saint Petersburg, the imperial home city
of both Medvedev and his mentor President Vladimir Putin.
"I'll trust you with a secret. I wrote on my
ballot paper 'We want honest elections,'" Yury
said outside the prestigious Mariinsky ballet.
"It was the only way to express my opinion. I am not scared of anything."
International observers have criticised the
elections, which have seen liberal opposition
candidates barred from the poll and blanket coverage in favour of Medvedev on
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov appeared
to be the favourite at the derelict collective
farm of Buzharovo some 60 kilometres outside
Moscow, where nostalgia for Soviet times was in the air.
"I voted for Zyuganov," said 35-year-old Natalya
Klimova, who works at the village pharmacy. "I want a return to the past.