Russian Polling Stations Open, Protestors Lash Out in Rare Defiance

Update (0837 EST):

According to BazaBazon, a woman has been detained for setting fire to a polling station in the South-East Administrative District of Moscow. She could receive a penalty of three to five years.

Elections Begin:

The Russian Presidential Elections have begun and will continue for the next two days as incumbent President Vladimir Putin is expected to win in a landslide. The first regional election commission to report opening of polling centers was Kamchatka Krai and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, quickly followed by the other several dozen regions. About 2,200 polling places are expected to operate over the next two days according to TASS, with about 1,200 of those in occupied Ukraine. 30 in Abkhazia, 12 in South Ossetia, 5 in Armenia, and 1 in Azerbaijan. UK Ambassador to the OSCE condemned the Russian Federation holding elections on Ukrainian soil, decrying it has an attempt to legitimize the 2022 invasion.

Controversy Already:

By 0445 EST, Russian Central Election Commission Chair Pamfilova was the first to sound alarm as “fake journalists were attempting to carry out illegal actions as polling places in St. Petersburg.”

In Borisoglebsk, a woman was detained in connection for damaging ballots at one of the polling places. Voting was briefly suspended due to this incident.

By 0550 EST, Russian Central Election Commission requested additional National Guard troops be deployed after reports of ballot spoiling in Rostov and Karachay-Cherkessia Republic. Multiple people were reported to have dumped green ink into the ballot boxes, destroying deposited ballots.

Additionally, a man was detained for allegedly setting off fireworks in Chelyabinsk after reports of explosions were circulated at a polling center there.

According to TASS, 2.2 million Russians participated in early voting. As in previous presidential elections, President Putin prioritizes having high voter turnout in order to project legitimacy to the international community. One of the tools available to Putin’s government is requiring federal employees and compelling private sector employees to vote. Indeed, according to NaVybory24, public sector employees in Russia were required to confirm their participating in the elections again this year.

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United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.