Russians in Goa vote for their Parliament

PTI, PANAJI | 04 December 2011 22:11 IST

For the first time, Russia on Sunday set up a polling station in Goa to enable its citizens to cast their vote to elect the State Duma - lower house of the Parliament.

Several Russians, either holidaying or living in Goa, on Sunday exercised their franchise between 11 am and 5 pm under strict vigil by Russian diplomats at a three-storey building in Porvorim area, 5 km away from Panaji, which was converted into a polling booth.

"This is for the first time that Russia has allowed voting at a place, which is not its embassy or consulate office. Earlier, citizens had to travel to Mumbai to exercise their right," Vikram Varma, lawyer of Russian consulate in Mumbai, Varma said.

Goa, which attracts around 40,000 Russians annually, has 150 Russians living here on a long-term business visa and around 5,000, who visit the state as tourists.

Roman Vorobiev, an officer from Russian Consulate in Mumbai, and Eugene Kurilka, Deputy Head of trade representation of the Russian Federation in India, were the observers for the voting which passed off peacefully.

"There are a large number of Russians, who live in Goa.

The Russian consulate in Mumbai has stepped forward to assist its citizens to cast their votes," Varma said.

Besides Goa, the Russians could also cast their vote in their country's embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

"As a formality, the Russians, who travel outside their country, have to take a 'leave of absence' from the election office, which should be furnished to the authorities at the polling booth before getting the right to vote," Varma said.

The ballot boxes would be sealed and taken to Consulate in Mumbai, from where they would be sent through diplomatic courier to Delhi.

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