Media: At least 15 criminal cases opened on first day of Russian presidential election

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At least 15 criminal cases on alleged "obstruction of the electoral comissions' work" were been opened on the first day of the Russian presidential election, Russian media outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe reported on March 15, citing regional investigation committees.

Russia began three days of voting on March 15 in a theatrical "presidential election" that is expected to grant Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 1999, six more years in office.

Moscow is also organizing voting in occupied Crimea and parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts in violation of international law.

Some locals tried to start fires using Molotov cocktails at polling stations or attempted to pour paint, iodine, and ink into the ballot boxes, according to Novaya Gazeta Europe.

Criminal cases for alleged arson attempts were opened in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Voronezh, Ivanov, and Kogalym, while cases of ballots' spoiling were recorded in several cities, including occupied Simferopol in annexed Crimea.

Citizens accused of "obstruction of the electoral comissions' work" can be sentenced to five years of imprisonment. The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's parliament, is also considering tightening punishment for this violation, increasing the term of imprisonment to eight years, Russian state news agency TASS reported on March 16.

Over 200 ballots were spoiled as of March 16, the Russian Central Election Commission reported.

Despite the ballot boxes being poured with coloring substances, local election commissions will not cancel the results, Russian media outlet Verstka said.

The spoiled ballots will be annulled, and others that allow the vote being recorded will be counted, according to Verstka, citing its sources from local electoral commissions.

Ukrainian resistance movements earlier orchestrated an explosion near a polling station in occupied Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast, according to Kyiv's National Resistance Center.

Skadovsk, a city with a pre-war population of 17,000, lies at the Black Sea shores of Kherson Oblast. It has been occupied by Russia since March 2022.

Moscow held sham "regional elections" in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine in September last year in an attempt to consolidate its control over these regions.

Read also: Opinion: 6 obstacles to peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia

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