A viral video is warning Russians about the ‘dangers’ of not voting at the presidential election.
The three-minute advert – the origins of which are unknown – is set on the eve of election night, 17 March, where a man is mocking his wife for wanting to set an alarm so they can get out of bed in time to vote.
“As if they won’t elect someone without you,” he says.
The man then dreams of a world where he and his wife didn’t vote, where a military official accompanied by a black soldier informs him that the conscription age has been increased to 60, meaning he now has to join the army.
When he goes into his kitchen, he finds a tattooed man filing his nails who says he’s “a gay on homestay”. His wife explains that under new Russian laws, families are obliged to take in gay people abandoned by their parents.
If the young gay man doesn’t find a partner soon, she says, “You will have to be with him instead”.
He then ‘wakes up’ to find the gay man lying next to him in bed, before waking up for real and rushing his wife to the polling station “before it’s too late”.
The video has been accused of encouraging homophobia and xenophobia ahead of the upcoming election.
One of Putin’s political rivals is Ksenia Sobchak, a liberal journalist who has spoken in favour of LGBTQ rights. She called the advert “incitement to hatred” against the already-marginalised LGBTQ community in Russia.
“In my opinion, we can laugh about anyone. About Hitler and about gays. But to expose LGBT people to a threat in a homophobic country, this is no joke,” she said.
While some anti-Putin reporters have suggested the advert came from his campaign team to encourage people to vote for him, the stars of the video say they have no idea who commissioned it.
Svetlana Galka, who plays the wife, told Russian radio station Govorit Moskva that she doesn’t know its origins, and also dismissed accusations of homophobia, saying: “This is simply a humorous promo.”
You can watch the video below.