Russia To Hold Presidential Elections In Occupied Ukraine

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17.

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attending a ceremony to present Gold Star medals to Heroes of Russia on the eve of the Heroes of the Fatherland Day at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 8, 2023. (Photo by Sergey GUNEYEV / POOL / AFP)


Voting for the Russian presidential election, which is likely to see Vladimir Putin re-elected, will be held in four Ukrainian regions the Kremlin claimed to have annexed last year, Moscow said on Monday.

The Central Elections Commission said voting in March would go ahead in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — regions of Ukraine over which Russia still does not have full military control.

“The decision was adopted unanimously,” commission vice-president Nikolay Bulayev said, according to the state-run news agency TASS.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

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Putin is not expected to face any major challenges in his bid for a fifth term, with most of Russia’s opposition jailed or in exile.

Five parties have been allowed to put forward a candidate for the 2024 vote without collecting signatures. All support the Kremlin and the military offensive in Ukraine.

Ukraine earlier urged the international community to “resolutely condemn Russia’s intention to hold presidential elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories”.

Kyiv also called on the West to sanction individuals responsible.

Russia has previously held elections in occupied regions of Ukraine, votes denounced by Kyiv and the West as null and void.

Moscow held ballots for local officials in the four Ukrainian regions in September.

One year earlier it had held a “referendum” to annex the territories.

Both votes were also condemned by Kyiv and the West.

Russia unilaterally annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has held ballots there since.