“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.
俄罗斯女性和弗拉基米尔.普京(Vladimir Putin)之间的特殊关系可以追溯到他刚开始执政的时候。在2000年的选举中——那是普京的名字第一次出现在选票上——他的选票有61%来自女性，39%来自男性。这个性别差距一直在延续：根据皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)的数据，2012年，75%的女性对普京表示支持，而男性的支持率则是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.
维雷索娃和我拍摄的其他女性生活在一个几乎没有男人的世界里。俄罗斯女性要比男性长寿十年，这是世界上最大的两性预期寿命差距。根据世界卫生组织(World Health Organization)2015年的数据，俄罗斯女性的预计寿命达到76岁，而男性只有65岁。到女性到达退休年龄时，她们的丈夫往往已经死去，她们的日常生活包括照顾孙辈，花时间陪伴其他老年女性和看电视。
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.