Russia opens criminal cases after voters pour dye in ballot boxes and start fire in protest over PUTIN's re-election

Sunday, March 17, 2024
 – Russia has filed at least 15 criminal cases after people poured dye in ballot boxes, started fires and lobbed Molotov cocktails during the presidential vote this weekend.

Several incidents were reported across Russia on Saturday, including a resident of Ivanovo who set fire to a ballot box at a polling station, according to the regional department.

In Yekaterinburg, a man has been detained for 15 days for hooliganism for attempting to pour paint into a ballot box, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

This follows similar incidents caught on camera on the opening day of the three-day vote, near certain to extend Vladimir Putin’s long grip on power.

CCTV video from a polling station in Moscow showed a young woman pouring what appeared to be green dye into a ballot box. She was immediately detained, according to RIA Novosti.

In St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, a woman threw a Molotov cocktail at the signboard of a polling station in the Moskovsky district, RIA reported. The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries, officials said.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, dissent has been banned in the country.

Polls opened Friday across Russia’s 11 time zones. With most opposition candidates either dead, jailed, exiled, barred from running or simply token figures, Putin is expected to coast to victory, extending his rule until at least 2030.

In total, 29 polling stations across 20 regions in Russia have been targeted by “narrow-minded people” said the head of the Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfilova, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Eight attempts of arson had been recorded during the election, and 214 ballot boxes had been irretrievably damaged, Pamfilova added.

The cases are being filed under the article on “obstruction of the work of election commissions.”

The turnout on the second day of voting as of 12 pm was 52%, according to the Central Election Commission of Russia.

“Considering the synchronicity of incidents in different regions, one can assume a deliberate organized provocation,” Alena Bulgakova, chair of the Russian Civic Chamber, said Friday according to Ria Novosti.

Pamfilova earlier called the protesters “scum” and claimed without evidence that several of those who poured liquid into ballot boxes were paid to do so.

The Russian government often alleges that acts of political dissent are paid-for “provocations” rather than genuine acts of protest.

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