Russia meddling in its presidential election?

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March 18 is presidential election day in Russia, and it seems the country is using social media propaganda to rig the outcome. Sound familiar? A recently released “homophobic and xenophobic” viral video warns Russians who don’t vote in next month’s presidential elections will risk seeing their country transformed into a gay-friendly state where people in their 50s are eligible for the military draft.

The Guardian reports the three-minute video was uploaded to social media on Friday and Saturday and viewed by millions of people. It is set for re-release on March 17, the eve of the presidential election.

The video starts with a middle-aged man mocking his wife, who wants to set an alarm clock to get up and vote. “As if they won’t elect someone without you,” he says.

He then falls asleep and dreams that a military official, flanked by two soldiers, including a black man, attempts to enlist him in the army. “I’m 52,” he protests. “Excellent. The conscription age has been increased to 60.”

He then goes into the kitchen, where a tattooed gay man sits filing his nails. “Who’s this?” he asks his wife. “I’m a gay on a homestay,” the man tells him, after which his wife reminds him that under a new law, Russian families are obliged to take in gay people who have been abandoned by their families.

The shocked man rushes into the bathroom, where an intercom blares “toilet time is restricted.” In the tradition of classic horror films, he apparently wakes up, only to find himself in bed with the gay man. He then wakes up for real, and urges his wife to come with him to the polling station “before it’s too late!”

Ksenia Sobchak, a liberal journalist who has spoken out in favor of LGBT rights in Russia, and others, believe the video was produced by either President Vladimir Putin’s campaign team or the government-controlled election committee.

“In my opinion, we can laugh at anyone. About Hitler and about gays,” Sobchak told The Guardian. “But to expose LGBT people to a threat in a homophobic country, this is no joke.”

Alexei Navalny, an opposition figurehead, has been urging Russians to boycott the election, which he says is rigged, The Guardian reported.

Video still: YouTube

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