16.12.08 14:02

The Right of Choice

Polling station No 2120 (covered by election district No 1 of the city of Ashgabat) was set up at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation in the center of Moscow. Citizens registered with the consular department, aged 18, who live in Moscow, Moscow district or nearby regions of Russia, were informed about elections in advance. Nevertheless, all citizens of Turkmenistan, who happened to be in Moscow on this winter day, were invited to vote through the Russian mass media and the embassy\'s official website.

On 14 December, the first voters arrived early of the opening hour. The resident of Stanki village of Vyaznikov district of Vladimir region, Zemnuhova Nina Mikhailovna, arrived twenty minuets before the start of voting. Members of the polling station could not let the woman stand freezing in the street, and she waited for her turn to vote in the embassy building.

She cast her ballot in the first minutes of voting. To the applause of members of the polling station, Nina Mikhailovna and two next voters received memorable gifts, including the collection of Makhtumkuli verses printed in 2008 in Russian language.

\"I came here to vote for candidates who can worthily represent people in the highest legislative body of Turkmenistan. It took me a couple of hours to get to Moscow but I am very proud to fulfill my duty as a citizen of Turkmenistan, Nina Mikhailovna said. I wish happiness to my country that is far away from where I am now.\"

The voting was held in a festive spirit at polling station No 2120. Turkmen national music was played, films about Turkmenistan were demonstrated in a separate room, refreshment was offered to guests who arrived from remote places.

\"We were informed beforehand about forthcoming voting in Moscow, and could not miss this event,\" said Anna Panova who lives in Moscow, and came to vote together with her mother. We are happy to see a festive atmosphere at the poling station. We have had the opportunity to chat with fellow countrymen and feel home.\"

Good news arrived from Ashgabat in two hours after the start of voting. Voter turnout as of noon local time was announced. The election of deputies of the national parliament of the fourth convocation was declared valid with 56,68% of voter turnout.

The voting in Moscow caught the eye of Russian press and TV. Journalists made reports and talked to voters. During the day, Russia\'s central TV channels translated video feeds describing Turkmenistan\'s first parliamentary elections with participation of international observers and the opportunity to vote abroad. On this day, polling stations were opened in 27 countries at Turkmenistan embassies and consulates.

Interim results were summed up by noon in Moscow too. The election commission reported that 763 voters or 48,97% of all registered voters cast their ballots. The commission explained that there were 1558 citizens of Turkmenistan on the list of voters who live in the central region of Russia. Later in the day, the commission issued interim reports. Meanwhile, voter turnout at the polling station was steadily growing.

One could see citizens of Turkmenistan, who enjoy wide public recognition both back home and abroad. For example, the appearance of Turkmenistan\'s famous film producer Hojakuli Narliyev, prize winner of many international contests, producer of \"Nevestka\", \"Fragi Razluchenniy so Schastiyem\" and many other films, was warmly welcomed by people at the polling station.

There also were many businessmen, citizens of Turkmenistan, making contacts with Russian businessmen.

\"Like everyone else, I feel very inspired today, says businessman Melis Maviyev. I expect new changes for better from these elections. Deputies that we elect today will represent our interest in the parliament and pass new important laws. The reform of legislation is important to our country, not least from the point of investment attractiveness. As a businessman, I can say that interest of foreign companies in Turkmenistan has grown significantly after the adoption of the new constitution of Turkmenistan and other new laws that promote better investment climate in the country.\"

The final turnout in Moscow reached 1433 people or 91,98% of total voters registered. It should be acknowledged that the voter turnout was very high for the Russian capital, a megapolis where people always complain about time constraints. However, even those who normally spend several hours to get to the center of Moscow made their best to come to the polling station. Thus, citizens of Turkmenistan living in the central part of the Russian Federation welcomed the reforms in Turkmenistan, which are now part of them, and proved that they care about their homeland, though it is temporarily far away from them.

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