Presidential Elections in Russia: Voter Turnout Exceeds 50%

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova: “Over the past year, the Europeans and Americans have tried in every possible way to disrupt the presidential election, but they have not succeeded”

Maria Zakharova

On the second and penultimate day of the Russian presidential election (March 15-17, 2024), Ukraine stepped up attacks on southwestern Russian territories, launching dozens of explosive drones and organizing raids by sabotage groups. In Russia’s Belgorod, which has been under heavy Ukrainian bombardment for days, authorities have decided to keep shopping centers closed for at least two days, and schools where polling stations have traditionally been located will remain closed Monday, as well as Tuesday.

In a press release, the Russian Defense Ministry said that “over the past 24 hours, several new attempts to infiltrate the Spodariushino and Kozinka areas of the Belgorod region have been repelled, during which the Ukrainians lost at least 30 military personnel.”

In Russia’s Samara region, about 900 kilometers southeast of Moscow, a Ukrainian drone attacked two oil refineries in Syzran and Novokuibyshevsky on Friday night, causing fires that were quickly extinguished.

Meanwhile, in major Russian cities, on Saturday, March 16, no new incidents like yesterday’s were reported at polling stations, when in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don dozens of ballots already inserted into ballot boxes were spoiled by a typical indelible agent, a green disinfectant that is very common in Russia and called “zelyonka.”

Nikolai Bulayev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Election Commission, said turnout exceeded 50 percent at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. in Italy). These data, Bulayev clarified, “take into account only those who came to vote at polling stations” and do not yet take into account the results of online voting, for which more than 4 million Russian voters have registered. Polling places will be open today and Sunday, March 17, until 8 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin voted online Saturday from his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo near Moscow, the Kremlin said.

Official data from Russia’s presidential election shows a “very high percentage of voters in the new regions” that rejoined Russian Federation on September 30, 2022, following popular referendums. According to the RIA Novosti press agency, 70% of eligible voters have already cast their ballots in the Donetsk People’s Republic, 40% in Luhansk, 55% and 69% of voters in Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions respectively.

As Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized, “unfriendly” Western countries tried in every possible way to “boycott” the presidential election in Russia, even using “agents of influence or just mercenaries” in the ranks of the opposition, but they failed.

“Over the past year,” Zakharova emphasized, “the Europeans and Americans have tried in every possible way to disrupt the presidential election, prevent it or distort the concept of elections.” And that’s also with online disinformation campaigns and blocking of Russian organizations’ apps and digital platforms. All of this is “useless,” Zakharova added, assuring that Russia has instead united “in the face of threats” and “to solve the problems we face.”

Osservatori internazionali vigilano sull'andamento del voto in uno dei seggi elettorali