Ukraine’s Citizens Coerced to Vote for Putin Amidst Bombing Campaign

Ukraine’s Citizens Coerced to Vote for Putin Amidst Bombing Campaign

Ukrainian bombs fell in western Russia on Saturday as citizens, for a second straight day, cast their votes in the ongoing presidential election expected to anoint President Vladimir Putin with a third 6-year term.

Saturday’s missile attacks killed a man and a woman in the village of Belgorod; the man was said to be driving when his car was hit.

Putin maintains strong support there, despite the relentless fighting that continues at the border, The Washington Post reported.

A nearby oil refinery was also left in flames following a separate drone attack as Ukraine continues its assault on Russia’s infrastructure.

The regional governor announced later Saturday all shopping malls will be closed Sunday and Monday and all schools and colleges will remain shuttered through Tuesday amid the cross-border attacks, CNN reported. The governor,  Vyacheslav Gladkov, initially closed schools on Tuesday and had hoped to reopen them by Monday.

“The situation is quite difficult both in the city and in Belgorod district. Naturally, the issue of safety is the most important for all of us,” Gladkov wrote in a post on Telegram. “It is clear that teachers, nannies and technical staff are all worried.”

The election is expected to result in Putin’s third consecutive 6-year term REUTERS

Putin has accused Ukrainians of attempting to disrupt the three-day election, and Russia elections officials contend there have been at least 28 incidents of attempted ballot box destruction, including several incidences where protestors poured liquid into them.

Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova also claimed that there were 160,000 cyberattacks on remote electronic voting infrastructure, Russia’s Interfax news agency said.

Putin, 71, is almost guaranteed reelection, as he faces off against three token challengers who have abstained entirely from criticizing either Putin or his decision to invade Ukraine three years ago.

Ukrainians in some Russian-occupied areas to the eastern part of the country are being forced to vote at gunpoint by armed masked Russian servicemen, Al Jazeera reported.

Such voting has been held right outside resident’s apartment buildings.

“There’s no secrecy of vote,” said one former resident of Mariupol. “People who love Ukraine must submit to the regime and pretend they support everything that’s going on, because they’re afraid for their lives.”

Ukrainians in Russian-occupied areas were compelled to vote by force. AP

In other developments Saturday:

— Russia’s Federal Security Service reportedly thwarted a terrorist plot to disable the Trans-Siberian Railway in the Urals.

State news agency TASS said a 61-year-old Russian national was arrested for planning the foiled terror attack.

Women carry Russian flags as they leave a polling station during the presidential election on March 16, 2024. REUTERS

Security officials allege the man was recruited by Ukrainian intelligence and received sabotage training before returning to Russia to carry out the plot.

— Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement he spoke to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba about the recently-approved $300 million in military equipment that will soon arrive in the war-torn nation, where troops are desperate for ammunition.

Blinkin “thanked Foreign Minister Kuleba for the Ukrainian government’s commitment to undertake anti-corruption reforms needed to advance its Euro-Atlantic integration,” and “once again underscored the United States’ enduring support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as its people fight to secure their democratic future in the face of Russia’s brutal war of aggression.”

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