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Putin towards plebiscite, Moscow accuses the West

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Vladimir Putin’s is on the way to being not just a success, but a true plebiscite. At least according to official data, which report massive voter participation in the presidential elections, even in the annexed Ukrainian territories. While heavy Ukrainian bombing continues in the Russian border region of Belgorod and what the authorities define as “acts of vandalism” are multiplying in the polling stations, to which Moscow responds by accusing Western countries of having inspired them and their diplomats in Russia of “interference” in vote.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) estimated that turnout across the country reached 55% at the end of the second of three days of voting, which ends tomorrow. The final figure could therefore significantly exceed the 67% recorded in the 2018 elections, when voting took place on just one day. What stands out are the data relating to the Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Moscow’s troops and annexed to Russia, where voting operations began on February 25th. In Zaporizhzhia the figure is 72%. While the data released on Friday evening showed 69% in those of Donetsk and Kherson and 36% in that of Lugansk.
As for the results, the deputy head of the CEC, Nikolai Bulayev, announced that the first partial results will begin to be announced after 9pm on Sunday Moscow time (7pm in Italy), one hour after the closing of the polls in the capital. The CEC has announced that there are at least 29 polling stations in 20 Russian regions where “acts of vandalism” have occurred. Ink was spilled in the ballot boxes in 20 polling stations, attempts to set fire were recorded in eight and a smoke bomb was thrown in one. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed the finger directly at Western countries, accusing them of “inciting people, who are obviously in connection with them, to go to the polls and commit these acts of extremism.” Diplomats from these countries in Russia, added the spokeswoman speaking at a conference, “are doing everything they can to interfere in the vote”.
Previously Zakharova had said that the Westerners themselves had been trying for a year to boycott the Russian presidential elections, even with the use of “agents of influence or simply mercenaries” from the opposition ranks.

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The US and EU countries have shown their support for the team of Alexei Navalny, the opponent who died last month in an Arctic penal colony, whose collaborators have called on the Russians to demonstrate tomorrow with the ‘Southern Against Putin’ initiative, which consists of everyone going to the polls at 12. A Russian deputy, Yana Lantratova, has announced that in the next few days a bill will be finalized that provides for penalties of up to eight years in prison for anyone who attempts to interrupt the elections through arson or other dangerous means. And it is no coincidence that Lantratova is part of the commission of the Duma, the lower house of Parliament, responsible for investigating the interference of foreign states.

According to Zakharova, creating disruption in the Russian elections and obtaining more armaments from the West are also the objectives of the heavy Ukrainian bombings that have been repeated for days on the Russian border regions, in particular that of Belgorod. The governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said two civilians were killed and three wounded in fresh drone, artillery and mortar attacks. Shopping centers were closed for the weekend and schools will suspend operations on Monday and Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said that another attempt at “infiltration by Ukrainian sabotage groups” had been repelled, resulting in the loss of 30 soldiers. Local authorities said Ukrainian shelling killed one woman and wounded four other people in the occupied part of the Kherson region. Yesterday Putin warned that the attacks in Kiev will not go “unpunished”.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have reported that Ukrainian drones hit a refinery in Syzran, in the Samara region, more than a thousand kilometers from the border, where a fire broke out. While a bombing on another refinery, in Novokuybyshevsk, was foiled. And the internal security services, FSB, announced that they had arrested a Russian citizen in the pay of the Ukrainian secret services who was preparing an attack on the Trans-Siberian railway.

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Read the full article on ANSA.it

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