“Putin is respected by everyone, so men should pay attention to how and what he does,” Anna Veresova, 75, a retired teacher, told me. “In theory, he is the perfect man to have around.”
The special relationship between Russian women and Vladimir Putin goes back to the very beginning of his years in power. In the 2000 elections — the first time Mr. Putin’s name was on the ballot — 61 percent of his votes came from women and just 39 percent from men. The gender gap has persisted: In 2012, 75 percent of women offered a favorable opinion of Mr. Putin, compared with 69 percent of men, according to the Pew Research Center.
俄羅斯女性和弗拉基米爾.普京(Vladimir Putin)之間的特殊關系可以追溯到他剛開始執政的時候。在2000年的選舉中——那是普京的名字第一次出現在選票上——他的選票有61%來自女性，39%來自男性。這個性別差距一直在延續：根據皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)的數據，2012年，75%的女性對普京表示支持，而男性的支持率則是69%。
For the election on Sunday, 69.2 percent of women said they planned to vote for Putin, while only 57.5 percent of men did, according to a survey in February by the state-funded polling agency FOM.
Older women are a particular bastion of support. I spent a week in St. Petersburg last month and spoke to a dozen older women from different walks of life, with a variety of income and education levels. All told me they were voting for him. Most said they were doing so in part because he was a good man — strong, healthy and active.
Ms. Veresova and the other women I photographed live in a world of very few men. Russian women outlive Russian men by over a decade, the biggest life expectancy gender gap in the world. According to World Health Organization data from 2015, women are expected to live until 76, and men to just 65. By the time women reach retirement age, their husbands have often died, and their days consist of taking care of grandchildren, spending time with other older women and watching television.
維雷索娃和我拍攝的其他女性生活在一個幾乎沒有男人的世界里。俄羅斯女性要比男性長壽十年，這是世界上最大的兩性預期壽命差距。根據世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)2015年的數據，俄羅斯女性的預計壽命達到76歲，而男性只有65歲。到女性到達退休年齡時，她們的丈夫往往已經死去，她們的日常生活包括照顧孫輩，花時間陪伴其他老年女性和看電視。
On the one hand, no one I spoke with seemed to feel that they were worse off, exactly: Even before their husbands died, the women were already doing all the household chores. Most saw retirement as a chance to relax, to try things they’d always wanted to do. I met women who became professional divers, started horseback riding, were learning to use smartphones and were singing in choirs. One started a business.
And yet their emotional response to Mr. Putin — the only man their age who is a presence in their lives — seems to speak to both the holes and the scars that Russian men, in their absence, have left. Mr. Putin is not lazy, these women say. He doesn’t drink. He’s calm, sober, even charming. On March 8, when Russia had its annual lavish celebrations of International Women’s Day, Mr. Putin appeared on television, as he did the year before. He looked into the camera, praised Russia’s women who “take care of our homes and children every day.” He recited poetry. The babushkas alone in their homes watched.