Riverdale residents cast ballots for Russian president


To prove there had been no tampering with the ballot box destined for Riverdale on Sunday, Russian government officials at the nation’s Upper East Side consulate opened it and showed election monitors it was empty. 

They then sealed the white wooden box with a strip of paper and a glue stick.

The Russian Embassy Residences, at 355 W. 255 St., was one of 18 presidential election voting locations in the United States where Russian citizens could choose between Vladimir Putin and other candidates, including Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets. 

Dozens of Russian expatriates filed up Mosholu Avenue, along the tall steel fence that surrounds the 20-story-tall building; cameras watching every step along the route. 

It’s not easy to gain access to the building, which is a residence for families of those who work at the Russian Consulate. 

Sometimes not even being a Russian citizen is enough. Election monitor Olga Golovanova had planned to accompany the ballot box from the consulate to Riverdale, but at the last second was denied the ride.

“They just decided not to let me go,” Ms. Golovanova said. “That’s very bad. They said that it’s a private residence and that’s why they can’t let in anybody. But that’s not good that we can’t have people there.”

Voters lined up outside the front gate. Each stated their business into an intercom and displayed their passports before somebody buzzed them in. The moment they stepped through the gate, they had officially travelled from Riverdale, U.S. to Riverdale, Russia.

Built by the Soviet Union in 1974, the compound has always been shrouded in secrecy.  

It was built using a unique top-down construction method in which each floor was assembled on the ground — around two enormous concrete core pillars containing stairs and elevators — and then hoisted slowly into the air. Floor 20 was in place months before work began on the ground floor.

Not even police and firefighters are allowed inside. A recent fire was handled internally, while the fire department watched from outside the gate.

Graham Kates, The Russian Embassy Residences, Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Prokhorov, Olga Golovanova, Dmitry Alexeev.
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