One single vote from 100% win for Putin at Novaya Zemlya

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - March 22, 2024
The leader in Kremlin has allegedly full support from the people in Belushya Guba, the main settlement at Novaya Zemlya. Here from the May 9th celebration. Photo: Site of the Novaya Zemlya town administration


Tightening control of society, killing opponents and staging elections have secured Vladimir Putin’s total grip of Russia. But few electoral districts made the leader more happy than the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

Nationwide, 87,28% of the votes had a mark at the name of Vladimir Putin when all ballots were counted, if to believe Russia’s Central Election Commission. There are, however, no reasons to believe the result. The elections were rigged up front and followed by fraud, violations and pressure at the days of vote, March 15-17.

Result from the two electoral districts at Novaya Zemlya are likely sparking an extra smile in the Kremlin.

The Arctic archipelago sorts under Arkhangelsk Oblast and had two polling stations; No. 613 and No. 614. Both were located in Belushya Guba, the settlement on the southern island from where most of the Russian armed forces activities at Novaya Zemlya are coordinated.


A total of 493 votes were casted of which Putin secured 492. Or 99,80%, a short 0,20% behind what Saddam Hussein managed to secure in the 2002 Iraqi presidential referendum.

The single vote hindering the dictator from a 100% win went to Leonid Slutsky, leader of LDPR and deputy of the State Duma, Arkhangelsk news reported in Telegram.

Belushaya Guba is located less than 10 kilometers from Rogachevo airbase, which in 2021 announced that the first MiG-31BM aircraft now are on standby combat duty.

Little information is publicly available in regards to living conditions for personnel at Russia’s closed military towns in the high Arctic. The ministry of defense, have by several accations in recent years bragged about improved infrastructure and housing at the Arctic town, including a brand new kindergarten for the kids of the military families.

In 2019, Belushya Guba made worldwide headlines as the town was “invaded” by polar bears.

A group of up to 52 bears stayed in and near the town in a few months mid-winter, attracted by the food at the municipal dumpsite.

The town’s coat of arms displays two polar bears standing on the map of Novaya Zemlya.

Some 110 kilometers to the south of the town is the southern nuclear test site where several underground explosions took place from 1973 to 1975. Around the nearby Chernaya Guba, one under-water and a few on-water nuclear warheads were tested in the second half of the 1950s.

Today, Russia conducts sub-critical nuclear tests in tunnels near the Matochkin Shar, the strait dividing the southern and northern islands of the archipelago. A few tens of kilometers south of the polygon is Pankovo test site, home to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile program.

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

As a non-profit stock company that is fully owned by its reporters, its editorial decisions are free of regional, national or private-sector influence. It has been a partner to ABJ and its predecessors since 2016.