The Kremlin has offered a chance to win a free iPhone or iPad to participants who take the best selfies after voting in this year’s presidential election, The Guardian reports.
The Apple promotion is part of an attempt to entice voters and melt voter apathy with a “holiday-like atmosphere”, especially among 18-to-39 year-olds, according to a leaked Kremlin document cited by Russian media outlet RBC. Russian celebrities and athletes are also expected to do their part in promoting the “Photo at the Polls” voter drive. According to The Moscow Times, the promotion has already been tested in local elections in seven cities, where top prizes were an iPhone 7, an iPad and an Apple Watch.
Observers widely expect Vladimir Putin to win a fourth term as president of Russia in the March 18 vote, from which opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been barred. Even so, Kremlin officials have reportedly been directed to ensure that the 65-year-old wins 70 percent of the vote with 70 percent turnout.
To meet the tall order, the hard-pressed apparatchiks have hatched a plan to turn polling stations into county fairs featuring family games such as guess-the-word and soccer dribbling drills, according to RBC. Other offerings include professional skills tests for kids and referendums on school-related issues for parents.
Russian political scientist Alexei Makarkin has predicted to The Moscow Times that “kids will drag their parents to the polls”.
Political strategist Grigory Kazankov believes that it is the “party” atmosphere rather than the Apple products that will draw youths in small cities to the voting booths.
“It’s not even about the iPhone and iPad. If you make it stylish then many will vote,” he assured the RBC.
Stylish party atmosphere notwithstanding, the main draw will probably be the chance to win free Apple products, which are a big step up from the fresh vegetable stalls that authorities sold near polling stations during the food shortages of the Soviet era.