The start of the presidential election is bad for Putin

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The beginning of Russia’s three-day election weekend was marred by protests, military conflict and reported cyber attacks as President Vladimir Putin is all but certain to be elected to serve another six-year term.
Moscow officials were once again accused by Western officials and Russian adversaries of tipping the country’s presidential election in Putin’s favor ahead of polls opening on Friday.
Several of Putin’s challengers were running campaigns from behind bars or were blocked from appearing on the presidential ballot.
If things continue to go as planned for Putin, due to a law he signed in 2021, the Kremlin leader could stay in power until 2036.
Arrests were made at several polling stations Friday after protesters poured dye into ballot boxes in Moscow, Crimea and the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region, according to Russian media reports.
One of such instances was captured on camera and shared to X, formerly Twitter, by Washington Post Moscow bureau chief Robyn Dixon.
The footage shows a woman pour a dark-colored dye into a ballot box at an unspecified polling location, and she is almost immediately detained by a law enforcement officer.
In the main image, a man votes in Russia’s presidential election in Yekaterinburg in the Urals on March 15, 2024.
The smaller image from the Russian state news agency Sputnik shows Russian President Vladimir Putin…
In the main image, a man votes in Russia’s presidential election in Yekaterinburg in the Urals on March 15, 2024.
The smaller image from the Russian state news agency Sputnik shows Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow.
Protests and attacks were reported at several Russian polling stations on the first day of voting.
More Photos by ANNA YURIEVA/MIKHAIL METZEL/POOL/AFP/Getty ImagesSaint Petersburg news outlet Fontanka reported that a 21-year-old woman was detained, accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a polling site in the Moskovsky District.
According to the report, the woman told police officers that she was ordered to carry out arson from a “Ukrainian Telegram channel” in exchange for payment.
Newsweek reached out to the foreign ministries of Ukraine and Russia for further comment via email on Friday.
Ukrainian officials also claimed to have hacked Russia’s online voting systems on Friday.
A spokesperson for Kyiv’s military intelligence agency (HUR) told The Kyiv Independent that the agency was making attempts to disrupt online election systems, adding, “There are no elections or democracy there anyway.”
Cross-border attacks were also reported along Russia’s border with Ukraine, where pro-Kyiv Russian militia groups claimed to have taken control of a village in the Kursk region earlier this week.
Putin said at a meeting for Russia’s Security Council on Friday that his country’s western regions were facing repeated shelling and that around 2,500 armed Ukrainian “proxies” were carrying out the attacks.
“These enemy strikes will not remain unpunished,” the Kremlin leader added, per Reuters’ report.
Russia’s electoral commission chair Ella Pamfilova also spoke out against protests and damage to ballot box locations on Friday, telling Russian media that such actions were punishable by up to five years in jail.
“Especially for all the scumbags who are ready to destroy the votes of people who came and voted because of these silver pieces,” Pamfilova said, referencing reports that some of the detained perpetrators had allegedly been paid by Ukraine.
Russian-appointed officials acting in occupied territories of Ukraine said that an explosive device was detonated in a trash bin outside a polling station in Skadovsk, a small, port-side city in the Kherson region, according to a report from the BBC.
No injuries were reported in the attack.
Moscow’s decision to hold elections within Ukrainian territory illegally annexed in 2022 was denounced by Kyiv officials, who called on their allies “to resolutely condemn Russia’s intention to hold presidential elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories, and to impose sanctions on those involved in their organization and conduct.”

Vladimir Putin is almost certain to be re-elected to a six-year term, but the start of Russia’s three-day election weekend was clouded by protests, armed conflict, and reported cyberattacks.

Before polls opened on Friday, Moscow officials were once again accused by Western officials and Russian enemies of rigging the nation’s presidential election to favor Putin. A number of Putin’s opponents were operating their campaigns from prisons or were prohibited from running for president. A law that Putin signed in 2021 gives him the potential to hold office until 2036, if all goes according to plan.

According to Russian media reports, protesters in Moscow, Crimea, and the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region poured dye into ballot boxes on Friday, leading to arrests at multiple polling places. One such incident was caught on camera, which Washington Post Moscow bureau chief Robyn Dixon shared to X, the former Twitter platform. At an undisclosed polling place, the video depicts a woman pouring dark-colored dye into a ballot box. Almost instantly, a law enforcement officer arrests her.

In the main picture, on March 15, 2024, a man casts his ballot in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, for president of Russia. Vladimir Putin is shown in the smaller photo, which was provided by the Russian state news agency Sputnik. In the primary picture, on March 15, 2024, a man casts his ballot in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, for Russia’s presidential election. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is seen in the smaller photo taken by the official news agency Sputnik in Moscow. On the first day of voting, there were reports of attacks and protests at a number of polling places in Russia. Additional Images by MIKHAIL METZEL/POOL/AFP/Getty Images and ANNA YURIEVA.

A 21-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of hurling a Molotov cocktail at a polling place in the Moskovsky District, according to the Saint Petersburg news source Fontanka. The woman allegedly told police officers that she received payment and instructions to commit arson from a “Ukrainian Telegram channel.”.

By email on Friday, Newsweek requested additional comments from the foreign ministries of Russia and Ukraine.

On Friday, Ukrainian officials also asserted that they had compromised Russia’s online voting infrastructure. The Kyiv Independent was informed by a military intelligence agency (HUR) spokesman that the organization was attempting to interfere with online election platforms, stating that “there are no elections or democracy there anyway.”. ****.

As pro-Kyiv Russian militia groups claimed to have taken control of a village in the Kursk region earlier this week, there were reports of cross-border attacks along Russia’s border with Ukraine. Putin stated that about 2,500 armed Ukrainian “proxies” were conducting the attacks during a meeting for the Russian Security Council on Friday. He claimed that his country’s western regions were being repeatedly shelled.

The Kremlin leader went on, “These enemy strikes will not remain unpunished,” according to a report from Reuters.

Chair of the Russian Election Commission Ella Pamfilova also denounced protests and vandalism of voting booth locations on Friday, warning Russian media that such acts could result in up to five years in prison.

“Especially for all the scumbags who are ready to destroy the votes of people who came and voted because of these silver pieces,” Pamfilova remarked, alluding to rumors that some of the perpetrators in custody had received payment from Ukraine.

In a report from the BBC, Russian-appointed officials operating in Ukrainian occupied territory claimed that an explosive device went off in a trash can outside a polling place in Skadovsk, a small port city in the Kherson region. There were no reported injuries from the attack.

Officials in Kyiv condemned Moscow’s plan to hold elections in illegally annexed territory of Ukraine in 2022 and urged their allies “to resolutely condemn Russia’s intention to hold presidential elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories, and to impose sanctions on those involved in their organization and conduct.”. ****.

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