"Russia Election: Vandalism Leads to Arrests as Ballot Boxes Targeted in Putin Vote"


 Russian officials have reported several detentions for vandalism at polling stations on the first day of voting in the presidential elections.


Incidents included pouring green dye into ballot boxes, setting boxes on fire, and igniting fireworks inside polling stations, as per state media.


Vladimir Putin is expected to secure six more years in office following the vote.

Voting is underway in Russia over three days until Sunday. The outcome is certain given Putin's lack of credible opposition. State media reported a 23% turnout in Moscow by late afternoon.


Most incidents occurred in polling stations in Moscow, Voronezh in south Russia, and the Karachay-Cherkessia region in the North Caucasus, according to Tass.


BBC Verify has authenticated footage of six incidents across Russia, including a video showing a woman hurling a petrol bomb near a polling station in St Petersburg.


Other verified videos depicted paint being poured into ballot boxes at various polling stations. In one instance, a woman poured bright green liquid into a box in Moscow. Another video showed a fire erupting at a voting booth.


Russia has also enforced voting in occupied areas of Ukraine. In Skadovsk, a small town, Russian-appointed officials reported an improvised device exploding in a rubbish bin outside a polling station, causing no injuries.


At least eight individuals have been arrested, though officials haven't confirmed if the vandalism was protest-related.


Some videos on Telegram showed vandals shouting pro-Ukrainian slogans while damaging the ballot boxes.


Deputy chairman of Russia's Central Election Committee, Nikolay Bulayev, stated there were five incidents involving liquids being poured into ballot boxes.


The liquid, identified as zelyonka (brilliant green), is an antiseptic solution but has been used in protests in Russia and Ukraine.


Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova condemned the saboteurs, calling them "scumbags." Some detainees admitted to vandalizing boxes for money and could face up to five years in jail.


Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Putin's critic Alexei Navalny, called on Kremlin opponents to protest at polling stations on Sunday. Navalny died last month in an Arctic Prison.


Navalnaya urged the West not to recognize Putin's fifth term, with NATO's secretary-general stating the vote won't be free and fair.


Polling stations opened on Friday in the Kamchatka Peninsula and will close on Sunday in the westernmost Kaliningrad exclave.

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