MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti)
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Three Russian cosmonauts cast their ballots for the Russian presidential elections on Sunday from the international space station, Russia’s Mission Control said on Sunday.
Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Oleg Kononenko voted during a special communications session through their proxy while the world’s sole orbiter was flying over the Hawaiian Islands, Mission Control said.
“Dmitry Zhukov, head of the Cosmonaut Training Center's press office, took the votes of the three International Space Station crewmembers from a private room, where cosmonauts normally talk to their families during flights, and filled in ballot papers and put them into the ballot box after being told how to vote by each of them,” Mission Control said.
Representatives of Russia’s Central Election Commission and the election commission of the Moscow Region, where Mission Control is located, and Russian journalists watched the voting process.
“The practice of voting by proxy during work in orbit was introduced during (former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s) perestroika in the late 1980s at the Russian orbiter Mir,” Mission Control said.
Russians are voting on Sunday to elect a president for the fifth time in the nation’s post-Soviet history. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faces four opponents, none of which, analysts say, is likely to prove a serious threat to his bid.
Putin was president from 2000 to 2008 but was forced to stand down by the Constitution, which limits the presidency to two "consecutive" terms.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.