People in line to vote in the Russian presidential election on 18 March 2018, Berlin. Photo: Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance / Getty Images
Russian citizens living in countries designated “unfriendly to Russia” may be about to lose the chance to vote in forthcoming elections, the business daily Vedomosti reported on Monday.
The proposal, which is currently under consideration according to a Vedomosti source, would close voting stations at Russian embassies and consulates abroad ahead of the 2024 presidential race. It may not ultimately extend to all Russian consulates in the 49 countries Moscow has deemed “unfriendly”, but it is likely to impact a “significant number” of them.
When asked why the Russian government was considering the proposal at all, officials involved in the discussions cited the shortage of consular workers and concerns about “voter safety” given that voters sometimes have to queue up outside embassies and could face harassment.
In the 2018 presidential election, 474,000 Russians voted at 394 polling stations abroad. In 2024, those numbers are expected to be much higher, following the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Russians — many of whom oppose Putin’s regime — in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Voting stations abroad must be registered by 24 January, according to Russian Central Election Commission member Pavel Andreyev. According to another source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry, a final decision on the issue is expected by the end of the month.