See Putin Run: How the Prime Minister Is Relying on Russia's Heartland

Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR For TIME

What do the simple folk do? The Prime Minister sits down with locals in the cafeteria of Kurgan's School No. 7

As usual, Vladimir Putin was late. Extremely late. Russia's Prime Minister was due to arrive at 3 p.m. in the town of Kurgan, a sooty industrial outpost on the Trans-Siberian Railway, to meet a group of provincial voters. Outside School No. 7, in Neighborhood No. 3, about 100 of them had gathered to wait for him, in a scene of village mirth much like a Bruegel painting with snow. But by 4 p.m. the people started shivering: the temperature was -20 degrees C. By 5, the flasks in their pockets were running dry. By 6, they started to curse, and the...

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