Voting continues on day two of Russia’s stage-managed presidential election

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Moscow on Friday. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Moscow on Friday. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Russians continued to head to the polls to cast their vote on Saturday as the country’s presidential election entered its second day.

This year’s presidential election is the first in Russia’s history to be held in a three-day format, with citizens able to cast their vote at polling stations — or, in 27 regions, as well as in occupied Crimea, online — until Sunday evening.

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) reported at the close of polls on Friday that over 36% of Russians eligible to vote had done so on the first day of the election.

Friday also saw a number of incidents at polling stations across the country, with footage of one woman pouring dye into a ballot box in Moscow and another throwing a petrol bomb at a polling station in St. Petersburg being widely circulated on social media. At least 15 criminal cases for “disrupting the voting process” were opened across 11 regions of Russia as well as in occupied Crimea on the first day of the election.

CEC head Ella Pamfilova called those who vandalised ballot boxes “scumbags” and warned that they could face up to five years behind bars, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Such attempts to disrupt voting processes had been made by “traitors” who were being “used in every possible way by those fighting against Russia”, Pamfilova said, adding that the “turnout is good and people are coming” to vote.

Several news outlets drew attention to portraits of incumbent president Vladimir Putin on the walls of polling stations across Russia, despite the country’s electoral legislation forbidding political campaigning in and around polling stations. State news agency TASS quoted a Belarusian observer who said that “no significant violations” had been recorded at the election.

Voting also continued in Russia’s western Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, despite a missile attack on the regional capital Belgorod killing two people and injuring three more on Saturday morning. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov had on Friday called on residents to cast their vote “for the future of our country” despite continued Ukrainian attacks on the region.

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