Russian Presidential Election: Over 24% of Voters Cast Their Ballots on First Election Day

Several hundred international observers from 106 countries are monitoring the voting in Russia

Some 27 million people voted online and in person on the first of three days of Russia’s presidential election, which began Friday, March 15. Nikolai Bulayev, deputy chairman of the Central Election Commission, said at a briefing that minor incidents, including the destruction of about 150 ballots, were recorded after the opening of polling stations. “This is a crime, criminal cases will be brought against about ten people,” Bulayev said. Another incident was recorded in the Maryino district of the Russian capital, where a girl poured green paint into a ballot box while shouting pro-Ukrainian slogans. The act can be qualified as “obstruction of the electoral right of citizens,” which provides for a penalty of 5 years of correctional labor.

Police in St. Petersburg stopped a 21-year-old student who tried to throw a Molotov cocktail at a polling station. According to Maxim Meiksin, chairman of the regional election commission of St. Petersburg, there was no material damage or casualties as a result of the incident. Police stopped the girl, who, according to preliminary data, acted “according to instructions received by phone from a number registered in Ukraine.”

Several hundred international observers from 106 countries are monitoring the Russian elections. In addition, the CEC accredited 1447 journalists from 90 media outlets, half of whom are foreign correspondents.

According to independent media reports, which have not been confirmed by Russian authorities at this time, voting in the presidential election was suspended this afternoon in the Russian city of Belgorod, on the border with Ukraine, due to artillery fire. After losing control over the town of Avdeevka, the Ukrainian armed forces stepped up strikes on the territories of Donbas and regions of southern Russia. On the night from Thursday to Friday, three children were killed in a Ukrainian bombardment of the city of Donetsk. The terrorist attack hit the Petrovsky district, mayor Alexei Kulemzin specified in his Telegram-channel. “A bomb from a barbaric bombing by Ukrainian Nazis last night,” the mayor wrote, “hit a private house on Olkhovskaya Street, causing a fire. Three children were killed in the attack: a teenager born in 2007, a girl born in 2021, and a boy born in 2014.”

Finally, on Friday, the press office of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant again condemned “the Ukrainian bombing of the plant’s critical infrastructures,” but “without consequences for either people or structures.”