Russia Reports Voting Sabotage

Ukraine, Western nations say the elections in occupied areas violate international law
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2023 3:35 PM CDT
Russia Reports Polling Places in Occupied Areas Sabotaged
A man leaves a polling station with a billboard in background with an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and reading "Truth is behind us, Russia is behind" during local elections in Donetsk on Sunday.   (AP Photo)

Russian authorities on Sunday reported multiple attempts to sabotage voting in local elections taking place in occupied areas of Ukraine. Polls have closed after local elections were held over the weekend in 79 regions of Russia, with ballots for governors, regional legislatures, city and municipal councils, as well as in the four Ukrainian regions Moscow annexed illegally last year—the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia provinces—and on the Crimean Peninsula, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014. Balloting in the occupied areas of Ukraine has been denounced by Kyiv and the West as a sham and a violation of international law, the AP reports.

Russian electoral officials on Sunday reported attempts to sabotage voting in the occupied regions, where guerrilla forces loyal to the Kyiv government had previously killed pro-Moscow officials, blown up bridges, and helped the Ukrainian military by identifying targets. A drone strike destroyed a polling station in the Zaporizhzhia province hours before it opened on Sunday, Nikolai Bulaev, deputy chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission, told reporters. He said no staff were at the station at the time. Ella Pamfilova, who heads Russia's Central Election Commission, called the incident "a terrorist act," claiming that a Western-supplied drone was used but giving no evidence, per the AP.

A Russian-appointed official in the neighboring Kherson region said a live grenade was discovered on Saturday near a polling station there. The acting head of the Russian-occupied parts of the Donetsk region said Sunday that polling station staff there had been "wounded and injured," without giving details. Moscow has partially occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia since early in the war, while parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions were overrun by Russian-backed separatists in 2014. Ukrainian forces have since retaken Kherson's namesake local capital and are pressing a counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia. Residents and Ukrainian activists have alleged that Russian poll workers make house calls accompanied by armed soldiers in both provinces, detaining those who refuse to vote and pressuring them into writing "explanatory statements" that could be used in a criminal case.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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