Voting in the presidential elections begins in Russia on March 15

Voting in the presidential elections begins in Russia on March 15


Friday, March 15 in Russia is the first day of voting in the presidential elections. For the first time, it is held over three days – starting on March 15 and ending on the main election day, Sunday, March 17.

At 23:00 Moscow time on March 14, voting began in eastern Russia – in Chukotka and Kamchatka.

Polling stations will also be open in the occupied territories of Ukraine – in the Russian-controlled territory of the Zaporozhye, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, as well as in the annexed Crimea.

Local residents in the territories of Ukraine controlled by the Russian authorities reported that they were being forced to participate in the vote.

Vladimir Putin, who has ruled Russia since 2000, is running for a fifth term. In addition to the current president, there are three candidates in the elections – Vladyslav Davankov, State Duma vice-speaker from the New People party, State Duma deputies Nikolai Kharitonov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Leonid Slutsky from the LDPR. The Central Election Commission refused registration to all candidates from non-parliamentary parties and self-nominations who collected signatures.

Initially, 15 candidates applied for the post of president. It was not necessary to collect signatures for registration only for those who were nominated by the parties represented in the State Duma – Davankov, Kharitonov and Slutsky. Putin collected signatures as self-nominated.

The CEC did not allow the journalist from Rzhev, Ekaterina Duntsova, even to collect signatures, pointing out errors in her nomination documents. After the refusal, Duntsova appealed to the Supreme Court and called on her supporters to support the second contender, Boris Nadezhdin.

Nadezhda managed to collect more than 200,000 signatures from Russians in support of her candidacy. The CEC found more than 15% defects in the signatures submitted by them, compared to the permissible 5%. Nadezhdin failed to challenge the refusal in court.

The elections held in Russia in recent years were assessed by independent observers and experts as unfree and dishonest. The authorities intervene in the election process, create advantages for pro-power candidates, and in some cases there are direct falsifications. There are no independent international observers at the presidential elections, and the observation opportunities for Russian citizens are also seriously limited.

Many commentators call the victory of Putin, who, in fact, controls all the levers of power in the country, practically predetermined. Earlier, the mass media, citing sources, wrote that the presidential administration wants to ensure Putin’s victory with a result of at least 80% with a high turnout. A recent poll by the state-run VTCIOM showed that at least 75% of respondents are ready to vote for the current president.

The Russian opposition called on all those who do not agree with Vladimir Putin’s policies to come to the polling stations at noon on March 17 during the presidential elections, thus expressing their silent protest. The idea was supported, among others, by the team of Alexei Navalny, who died in the colony in February, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In response, the prosecutor’s office threatened criminal responsibility for “obstructing citizens from freely exercising their electoral rights and the work of election commissions.” According to the corresponding article of the Criminal Code, he faces up to five years in prison.

In a column in The Washington Post, Alexei Navalny’s widow, Yulia, urged Western countries not to recognize the results of the Russian presidential election and not to consider Vladimir Putin as the legitimate head of state.

A number of members of the European Parliament and other politicians also urged not to recognize the results of the Russian presidential election and, consequently, Putin’s legitimacy. They indicate both the voting in the occupied territories and, for example, the adopted amendments to the Constitution, allowing Putin to run for a fifth term. Leaders of Western countries did not talk about the possibility of non-recognition of election results.


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