Putin vows to punish Ukraine for alleged attacks on presidential election voting centers

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of trying to disrupt Russia's presidential election and ensured Kyiv would be punished for its latest attacks.

According to Reuters, there were several disturbances on the first three days of voting, such as dye being poured into ballot boxes, a Molotov cocktail being hurled at a polling place in Putin's hometown, and alleged cyberattacks.

"These enemy strikes will not remain unpunished," said Putin during a meeting with Russia's Security Council.

Putin, 71, dominates Russia's political landscape and is favored to win reelection in a landslide victory.

Voting is open to over 114 million Russians, including those in four areas of Ukraine that Moscow refers to as its "new territories"—regions that its forces only partially control but that it has annexed as part of Russia. Elections held there, according to Ukraine, are invalid and unlawful.

But the election has been tainted with disruptions by anti-Kremlin agitators, including some that turned violent.

Russian media reported that dye had been poured into ballot boxes in Moscow, Crimea, which Russia had seized, and Karachayevo-Cherkessia, a territory in the Caucasus.

In one incident of the dye-pouring, a young woman was captured on camera depositing her ballot and then adding a green liquid to the ballot box. Not long after, she was seen being detained by a police officer.

A 21-year-old woman had also been detained after a Molotov cocktail was hurled at a St. Petersburg polling location, according to the Fontanka news website, Reuters reports.

Additionally, there have been reports of arson attacks at voting locations in Siberia and Moscow.

Ella Pamfilova, Russia's electoral commission chief, asserted that perpetrators could face up to five years in prison for such acts.

Putin has been in office as president or prime minister since 1999, and the Kremlin claimed he will win because he has the backing of a large number of people for both saving Russia from post-Soviet disarray and opposing what it views as an abrasive and unfriendly West.

For the first time in the country's presidential election, around one-third of Russians can vote electronically; critics claim this makes voting opaque and vulnerable to fraud.

However, Stanislav Andreichuk, co-chairman of the Golos vote-monitoring group, claimed to Reuters that "These are the most closed, most secret elections in Russian history."

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