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Russian election: Voters who attack ballot boxes face five years in jail, says chief

Russian election: Voters who attack ballot boxes face five years in jail, says chief

Russia’s election chief has said that people who vandalise ballot boxes to try and disrupt voting in the ongoing presidential election will be jailed for up to five years.

Citizens in Russia on Friday began voting in a three-day election that is almost certain to hand Vladimir Putin six more years as Russian president.

State prosecutors have already opened a criminal case against a woman who poured green dye into a ballot box in an attempt to damage voting slips. Footage showed her being detained by a policeman immediately afterwards.

The incident appeared to be a nod to the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who in 2017 was attacked by a person who splashed green disinfectant in his face.

Ella Pamfilova, chair of the electoral commission, said that any attempt to disrupt voting would be punishable by up to five years in prison under Article 141 of the Criminal Code - “obstructing the exercise of electoral rights or the work of electoral commissions”.

A woman pours liquid into a ballot box during the Russian presidential election (via REUTERS)
A woman pours liquid into a ballot box during the Russian presidential election (via REUTERS)

“Especially for all the scumbags who are ready to destroy the votes of people who came and voted because of these silver pieces,” she said, a reference to state media reports which claimed – without evidence - that many of the alleged vandals said they had been paid by Ukraine to cause problems.

State media also claimed that attempts to disrupt voting had taken place in Moscow and in Russian-controlled Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The Standard could not independently verify the claims.

Ms Pamfilova said that “anyone else who dares” to disrupt ballot boxes would be detained.

Separately, news site Fontanka reported that a 21-year-old woman was arrested after a Molotov cocktail was hurled at a polling station in St Petersburg.

The election takes place amid a ruthless crackdown on independent media and human rights since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The widow of Mr Navalny, the most prominent critic of Mr Putin who died earlier this month, on Friday called for the West not to recognise Mr Putin’s fifth term as president.

The three other candidates on the ballot are low-profile politicians from token opposition parties that support the Kremlin’s line.

European Council President Charles Michel said of the vote on Friday: “Would like to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his landslide victory in the elections starting today. No opposition. No freedom. No choice.”