Russian politics is notorious for some jaw-dropping campaign promotions. In 1996, Grigory Yavlinsky released an 11-minute music video featuring a singing police officer, a tap-dancing professor, a pilot also singing, and a whole lot of other people dancing and singing. Four years later, he released another series of campaign ads depicting Russia as a post-apocalyptic hellscape, implying that his electoral defeat would bring internment camps, war, and bread lines. In 2005, the Rodina party campaigned in the Moscow city elections with a commercial that showed North Caucasian immigrants littering in a park. In 2012, Vladimir Zhirinovsky starred in a campaign ad where he whips a donkey.
The 2018 presidential election has produced its own slew of memorable promotions, but it will be hard to top what the Novouralsk Broadcasting Company shared on YouTube this Thursday: a three-minute-long music video featuring pensioners, cadets, choir singers, and rappers — all spinning rhymes and busting moves, trying to coax voters to the polls on March 18.
The song includes lines (that rhyme in Russian) like “Oy, come to the election, let’s go vote. If not us, who will choose the president?” and “We’re collecting flags for our path. We’re marking our ballots, oy, a president! C’mon!” and “Everyone says why bother? They say it’s already clear who will get the award, and they’ll only get stronger behind locked doors. Well they’re like screw it, but I’m like yippee!”
The video doesn’t promote any specific candidate, meaning that the Central Election Commission won’t likely raise any objections. In the past week, Commissioner Ella Pamfilova announced that she mailed a complaint to the Education Ministry, objecting to a series of classroom activities in February where schoolchildren were involved in promotions for Vladimir Putin’s re-election campaign.
News outlets previously reported that the Kremlin has a “70/70” plan for the race, where 70 percent of voters participate and 70 percent of those votes go to Putin. Also to boost turnout for this year’s presidential election, Russian officials canceled absentee ballots. Additionally, the Central Election Commission has unveiled an online service that allows voters to change their voting station, if they expect to be away from their local precinct on election day on March 18.