Protests, arrests and allegations on the second day of elections in Russia

(CNN) — On the second election day in Russia, 29 polling stations in 20 Russian regions have been attacked by protesters trying to sabotage the presidential election, according to statements made to the Russian state news agency by election commission head Alla Pamfilova.

According to the regional department, several incidents were reported across Russia this Saturday, including the setting of a ballot box on fire at a polling station by a resident of Ivanovo and several people putting green paint on ballot papers and ballot boxes.

Pamfilova said eight arson attempts were also recorded and 214 urns were damaged beyond repair.

A woman put green ink on ballot boxes to protest the elections in Russia.

A woman put green ink on ballot boxes to protest the elections in Russia.

It comes on top of similar incidents caught on camera on the opening day of three days of voting that will almost certainly extend Vladimir Putin’s long grip on power.

Dissent has been banned in Russia since it launched its invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

“Taking into account the synchronicity of events in different regions, it can be assumed that this is a deliberate and organized provocation,” Elena Bulgakova, chairwoman of the Russian Civic Chamber, said on Friday, according to state agency RIA Novosti.

Arrests and charges against protesters

At least 15 people were criminally charged for “obstructing the work of electoral commissions”.

Alla Pamfilova assured that those detained for disturbing acts “will not escape responsibility if any connections are revealed, including to the Ukrainian security service.”

This Saturday, Pamfilova said that some of those arrested for damaging ballot boxes at polling stations had told investigators that they had worked for money from abroad and did not know they were being criminally charged. Will be held responsible.

According to Pamfilova, one of the detainees was promised 100,000 rubles (US$1,080) for disrupting the vote.

Pamfilova claimed that Russian voters had received messages from Ukraine and “European countries” with instructions to cancel ballots, adding that they were forced to carry out the attacks with legal and financial pressure. Pamfilova did not provide evidence of this, nor did she say which European countries the instructions came from.

According to SOTA, an independent Russian media outlet, pacifist Russian politician Boris Nadezhdin, whose candidacy to run in the Russian presidential election was rejected by the authorities, described these acts as “sabotage aimed at gullible and narrow-minded people.” Described as.

But he was quoted as saying that “the isolated cases of arson and green burning will not have any serious impact.”

Condemnation of elections in occupied territories

More than 50 countries condemned Russian elections in occupied Ukrainian territories in a joint statement published Friday on the website of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

A woman votes in Russia's presidential election at a polling station in Donetsk, Russia-controlled Ukraine, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict on March 16, 2024.  (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

A woman votes in Russia’s presidential election at a polling station in Donetsk, Russia-controlled Ukraine, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict on March 16, 2024. (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

“Conducting elections on the territory of another UN member state without its consent is a flagrant disregard for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Such elections have no validity under international law,” the statement said.

Also on Friday, the United Kingdom called those elections “fraudulent” at a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine. Ambassador James Kariuki, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, said, “These elections are a sham because of a simple truth: you cannot hold legitimate elections in someone else’s country.”

Kariyuki also said that elections in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories “will not be recognized” and called on Russia to “immediately stop these elections.”

With reporting by Maria Knight and Richard Roth

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