Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Presidential tailor-made for Vladimir Putin | War in Ukraine

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An electoral premises in Sergiyev Posad, north of Moscow.

Agence France-Presse

Russians vote on Sunday, the last day of a tailor-made ballot intended to triumphantly re-elect Vladimir Putin, the opposition having been eradicated and the Kremlin presenting unity as a patriotic duty, in the midst of an assault on Ukraine.

The detractors of the Russian president, at the helm of the country for 24 years, will nevertheless try to make themselves heard, despite warnings from the authorities, by calling on their supporters to come and vote en masse at noon.

Initial estimates and the results of a poll by a state institute, Vtsiom, should be known shortly after the last polling stations close at 7 p.m. local time in the Kaliningrad enclave.

The outcome of the ballot which opened on Friday and in which Vladimir Putin, 71, faces three candidates selected from the shutter and without scope, there is no doubt. The opposition has been decimated by years of repression which has further accelerated with the conflict in Ukraine, the backdrop to these elections.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (File photo)

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On Sunday, the Russian Defense Minister ordered his naval forces in the Black Sea to increase their firepower and intensify their training to better counter Ukrainian drones, which managed to defeat the powerful Moscow fleet. The Ukrainian military claimed in early February that around a third of Russian warships had been disabled in this area.

A new drone attack, blamed on Ukraine, caused a fire at a refinery in Slavyansk in southern Russia, regional authorities in Krasnodar said on Sunday morning, reporting… x27;one dead after suspected heart attack. An oil refinery was also targeted by a drone on Wednesday in Ryazan, about 200 km southeast of Moscow, causing injuries.

L& #x27;Russian army also claimed to have shot down 35 Ukrainian drones during the night above different regions of Russia, including Moscow, a particularly high figure.

Attacks on Russian refineries are increasing. On Saturday, a refinery was set on fire in Samara, some 600 miles from the Ukrainian border, after drone attacks. On Tuesday another refinery was targeted in the Nizhny Novgorod region, 800 km from the border with Ukraine, and a fire broke out the same day at a fuel complex in the Ukraine region. Oriol, approximately 160 km from the Ukrainian border.

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The results of a drone attack on Belgorod, March 17, 2024.

Furthermore, in Belgorod on Saturday, a Russian city very close to Ukraine and often targeted, a sixteen-year-old girl was killed when a strike caused the house where she was to burn. On Saturday, two people died following strikes in the same city. On Friday, Vladimir Putin vowed that Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory would not go unpunished.

Despite these attacks, a prolonged deadly conflict and increasingly restricted freedoms, the master of the Kremlin can count on very real popularity and sees the election as a demonstration of unity of the Russians behind him.

We must confirm our unity and determination to move forward, he insisted on Thursday, deeming it critical not to divert from the path, the country being, in his mind, the target of a war hatched by the West.

A vision shared by many of his compatriots. The actions that the West inflicts on us only further unite the Russian people, swears to AFP Lyubov Piankova, a 70-year-old retiree from Saint Petersburg, the head of the Russian Federation's hometown. x27;State.

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In Moscow, as elsewhere in the country, several people decided to come and vote at noon, as a protest.

Vladimir Putin's main detractors are, for their part, dead, in prison or in exile, a repression which culminated with the mysterious death of Alexeï Navalny in a prison from a remote region in the Russian Arctic.

If the opponents have no chance of influencing the vote, they nevertheless want to show that they exist, as during Navalny's funeral when Crowds paid tribute to him in Moscow.

Yulia Navalnaïa, who despite her exile promised to take up her husband's torch, called on her supporters to go to the polls at the same time, at noon on Sunday, and give their vote to any candidate other than Putin. /p>

Just before the appointed time, voters began to flock to the polling station where the late opponent was voting in Moscow, journalists from AFP.

This is the latest form of protest where you can express yourself freely (…) If I hadn't done that, I would have felt like a coward.

A quote from Alexandre, 29 years old

The authorities in the capital have warned against any form of protest.

When it comes to Ukraine, while the conflict has probably cost the lives of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, Moscow is responding. strives to triumphantly present recent conquests, although of limited importance, and to emphasize that Russia is gambling for its survival against the West.

All week, the Russian army also said it was repelling attempted armed incursions from neighboring Ukraine in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, assaults claimed by anti-Putin units claiming to be composed of Russians.

Just on Saturday, one of these groups, Russian Freedom Legion, called on civilians to evacuate the city of Belgorod: You do not have to be Putin's human shields. Another, the Siberian Battalion, claimed on Sunday morning to have entered a Russian hamlet, Gorkovsky.

Several people have died in these regions in recent days in addition in drone, rocket and artillery attacks, even if Russian anti-aircraft defense seems able to shoot down most of the projectiles.

The Russian army said on Sunday that it had destroyed 35 Ukrainian drones flying over several regions, including Moscow, overnight.

Three airports had to restrict their activities for less than two hours late in the morning for “security” reasons, the federal agency responsible for air transport said, as drones flew over the region.< /p>

Moscow, for its part, continues its bombing of Ukraine. A strike killed 21 people in Odessa on Friday.

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