Sun, 14 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Russian elections: attacks at polls; UN, EU condemn vote

Update : 16 Mar 2024, 10:34

Angry Russians with no political choices beyond incumbent President Vladimir Putin acted out in frustration Friday, causing disruptions at polling stations as voting got under way across the nation.

Several incidents were reported Friday and a number of individuals were arrested.

Ballot boxes, for instance, were attacked by voters who dumped dye into them, a reference to deceased former opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who was attacked with such dye by Putin supporters in 2017.

Navalny, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Siberian penal colony in February, was one of several individuals disqualified from campaigning against Putin, who has ruled the country since 1999.

Other incidents of vandalism included two women attacking separate polling stations with Molotov cocktails, at least one incident of ballot boxes being set on fire inside a Moscow polling station and another incident in which a man was arrested for setting off fireworks inside a polling station in the Urals.

"It seems Russians have chosen their form of protest: ruining voting booths," said Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, although it remains unclear whether such acts are coordinated or simply an expression of extreme individual frustration over Putin's ceaseless grip on the country.

Western leaders decry sham vote

Western leaders have long shrugged off the vote as a farce and Friday was no different.

UN spokesman Stephan Dujarric on Friday announced that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for instance, "condemns the efforts of the Russia Federation to hold its presidential elections in areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russia Federation," noting that Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of the region has "no validity" under international law.

Russians in Ukrainian areas annexed under Russian control, such as in Donetsk and Crimea, have been forced to accept Russian passports to survive, with many even being sent to fight against Ukrainian forces trying to liberate them.

European Council President Charles Michel derisively commented on X, formerly Twitter, that he "would like to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his landslide victory in the elections starting today. No opposition. No freedom. No choice." 

Voting in  Russia's presidential election will take place from March 15-17.


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