Russian official says ‘scumbags’ who vandalise ballot boxes face jail terms

Russian official says ‘scumbags’ who vandalise ballot boxes face jail terms
Russian official says ‘scumbags’ who vandalise ballot boxes face jail terms

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A woman pours a liquid into a ballot box, during the Russian presidential election in Moscow, Russia, in this screen grab taken from a video recording of a screen showing CCTV footage, March 15, 2024. — Video obtained by Reuters

MOSCOW, March 15 — Russia’s election chief said today that people who vandalise ballot boxes to try to disrupt voting in a three-day presidential election would be jailed for up to five years after a slew of such attacks across Russia.

The incidents occurred on the first day of a three-day election that is almost certain to hand Vladimir Putin six more years as Russian president. Election officials said the incidents would have no impact on the outcome.

Ella Pamfilova, the chair of the electoral commission, spoke out after state investigators said they had opened a criminal case against a woman who poured green dye into a ballot box in an attempt to damage voting slips.

State media said attempts to disrupt voting had taken place in Moscow, in the mountainous Caucasus region of Karachayevo-Cherkessia and in Russian-controlled Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

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Pamfilova said such crimes were punishable by up to five years in jail under Article 141 of the Criminal Code - obstructing the exercise of electoral rights or the work of electoral commissions.

“Especially for all the scumbags who are ready to destroy the votes of people who came and voted because of these silver pieces,” she said, a reference to state media reports which said many of the alleged perpetrators had said they had been paid by Ukraine to cause problems.

Pamfilova said police had detained all those who had so far tried to despoil ballot papers and they would be prosecuted.

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“Anyone else who dares will be detained,” she said.

Investigators in Moscow said they had opened two criminal cases, including against the woman whom CCTV footage showed depositing her voting slip before calmly pouring a green liquid into the transparent plastic ballot box.

A policeman is seen detaining her immediately afterwards.

The woman, who was not named, was later charged with “obstructing the exercise of electoral rights or the work of election committees,” the Investigative Committee’s press service said.

Separately, news site Fontanka reported that a 21-year-old woman was arrested after a Molotov cocktail was hurled at a polling station in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city and Putin’s home town.

Local media also reported attempts to set fire to voting booths in Moscow and in Siberia’s Tyumen region. — Reuters

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