RT presents: Russia's Choice

Russians from all walks of life have been giving RT their views on the country's future and the Presidential election. Every hour until polling day, RT has been broadcasting live interviews with Russia's most prominent politicians, opinion formers, celebr

From every part of Russia and abroad, our correspondents have been discovering the burning issues and what voters expect from their next leader.

Join us for the marathon broadcast!

March 2

Tatyana Lokshina
Tatyana Lokshina
Tatyana Lokshina, Russia researcher at the Moscow Office of Human Rights Watch, said the situation in Chechnya is controversial today.

“On one hand the social infrastructure has improved very significantly over the past two years. Also under the presidency of Ramzan Kadyrov the situation with abductions is not as dramatic as it used to be. We are glad to state that there are some improvements. However the civil society in Chechnya has been wiped out completely,” stated Lokshina.

Aleksey Knizhnikov, oil and gas officer for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Russia, told RT about the environmental dangers

Aleksey Knizhnikov
Aleksey Knizhnikov
connected with the country's energy growth.
 
“We still have a lot of areas that were polluted in Soviet times. And this is our real concern. But now with new technologies coming to Russia and the help of oil and gas companies we have a chance to coupe with these problems,” Aleksey Knizhnikov said.

Igant Fialkovsky
Igant Fialkovsky


Saint Petersburg has seen the biggest turnout since the crucial 1996 presidential election, but not all social groups are represented. Gay rights campaigner, Igant Fialkovsky, said that politicians ignored the gay community and all other minorities during the election campaign.

“They neglect all minorities in general – gay, ethnical or political. Their message towards us is negative. We don’t need you. We need the majority. And everybody must be the same,” Igant Fialkovsky said.   

Leonid Ilyushin from Saint Petersburg’s Committee for Education told RT that people’s mentality is the most difficult thing to

Leonid Ilyushin
Leonid Ilyushin
change and Russia's system of education has to deal with it. He also suggested that Russia’s main achievement during recent years is “that in the chain of changes the country passed the point of no return”. 

Roman Poborchy
Roman Poborchy
Roman Poborchy, head of Intel Software Group Russia, believes the country's legal framework is now holding back Russia’s IT sector.

“We need to make further improvements on intellectual property laws and mechanisms of their enforcement. And we also have to fight with corruption on the borders, which is a big issue as well,” Poborchy said.

Keith Luke
Keith Luke
Keith Luke, an American studying at St Petersburg State University, says it's difficult to compare election in the two countries.

“President Putin is very popular. So his endorsement of a candidate carries much more weight than in America. Candidates in America almost stand more alone in their ability to garner votes for their presidential campaign,” said Luke.

Mark Barantan
Mark Barantan
Mark Barantan, a Moscow citizen and head of the logistics department at Jacque Dessange Moscow, spoke to RT about extremism and xenophobia

“Nationalism isn't so bad by itself. Healthy nationalism is something that a country needs. But when officials begin to claim that we're surrounded by enemies, when people begin to think they're under threat, maybe it kind of brings some violence,” said Barantan.

Evgeny Schwarts
Evgeny Schwarts
Evgeny Schwarts from the World Wildlife Fund joined RT to talk environment. He believes Russia has a lot to offer the world in terms of biodiversity.

“Even during the most difficult years in terms of economy Russia was able to protect its biodiversity, for instance, the population of Amur tigers – the biggest tigers population in the world,” said Schwarts.

Aslan Abashidze
Aslan Abashidze

Aslan Abashidze of Moscow State Institute of International Relations told RT how future Russo-Georgian relations will be shaped by the next president.

“The countries have very strong historical and cultural ties, and it will be very difficult to spoil the relations dramatically. However, a lot depends on the new president,” stressed Abashidze.

Luke Harding
Luke Harding
Luke Harding, Moscow Bureau Chief for the UK Guardian Newspaper, told RT that his newspaper has concerns about the legitimacy of the Russian election

“We did a big investigation last week. We spoke to dozens of people not just in Moscow but in the cities of Vladivostok and Novosibirsk. Two things have emerged. One is that the Kremlin is worried about the turnout because, let's face it, everyone knows who's going to win the election and there's really no sense to vote. So we've seen public sector workers, teachers, students have been told they have to vote. And at the same time we've also been told that the turnout will be artificially boosted once polls close to deliver the figures at about 68-70 per cent,” said Harding.

Alexis Delaroff
Alexis Delaroff
Alexis Delaroff, the President of the French expatriate community in Moscow, spoke on the Russo-French relations under Putin and likely developments after the election.

“Economically things have been going the right way. As to the politics, the country’s relations were great during Chirac’s presidency. But Sarkozy, I think, has not yet decided what should be his policy towards Russia,” said Delaroff. 

Maria Ignatenko
Maria Ignatenko

Maria Ignatenko, student at the Moscow State Linguistic University, joined RT to share an insider’s view on higher education in Russia.

“Students in Russia are less free to choose courses they want to study,” Maria notes.

Jonathan Landman
Jonathan Landman

Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor of New York Times was RT’s guest at midnight. He spoke about Russia’s image in the West and how it’s changed over the last decade.

“People who pay attention see that Russia has gone from a country that struggled badly after the end of communism to a country that’s much more confident. But, also, in the eyes of some Americans it’s become less democratic and that, in the American eyes, is a little frightening,” he said.  

As for what Americans might expect from the next Russia’s leader, Landman believes, “In general, what Americans hope for, is the development of democratic principles and ideas that are more familiar to them.”

“People in the U.S. tend to trust countries that appear to be democratic, that appear to honour democratic principles: when somebody loses an election, they step aside, elections are fair,” he said.