Valentino Matviyenko is on track to become Russia's number three, and it seems like nothing can stop her. Currently the governor of St. Petersberg, the 62-year-old poltician and close ally of Vladimir Putin won over 95 percent of the votes cast on Sunday in the regional election for a seat in the Federation Council. With the support of Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, she's now poised to take the currently vacant position at the head of the upper house, and in doing so become the highest-ranking Russian stateswoman since Catherine the Great, as the BBC reports is being suggested. Since the Federation Council is loyal to the Kremlin, her ascendency seems all but guaranteed.
The Telegraph notes that the Matviyenko's overwhelming majority is "extremely unusual for St. Petersburg." And so were Matviyenko's get-out-the-vote techniques. Interfax reported that "clowns offered free ice cream … acrobats performed tricks outside the polling stations, while inside, stalls were stocked to the ceiling with cheap buns." Free check ups for voters and their pets were also offered at voting stations. Leading up to the election, police confiscated 145,000 copies of a newspaper that criticized Matviyenko without explanation. At that time, The Moscow Times reported that "local authorities are pulling out all the stops to ensure that nothing disrupts the vote."