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Election-day disruptors face severe punishment — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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Several people were arrested for vandalizing polling stations on the first day of voting in the presidential election

An electoral official in Russia has branded a wave of vandalism at Russian polling stations as terrorism, and called on law enforcement to severely punish such acts.

On Friday – day one of Russia’s three-day nationwide presidential vote – there were several incidents in which people poured green dye into ballot boxes, or committed acts of arson. The offenders have been detained and face up to five years in prison.

Maxim Grigoriev, co-chair of the Coordination Council for Public Control over Voting, said such acts are aimed at intimidating Russian voters. “This is not just an attempt to obstruct the elections, but an act of terrorism. I urge law enforcement agencies to approach this with the appropriate article of the criminal code, since people could have been injured as a result of these actions.”

However, he said the damage caused by such disruptors has been minimal. “Of course, some ballots will be spoiled, but this will not affect the course and results of the elections in any way,” Grigoriev said during a briefing at the Public Chamber election observation center.

On Friday a young woman was detained and is facing criminal charges for obstructing the voting process in Moscow after she poured what appeared to be green dye into a ballot box. In a surveillance video, the woman could also be seen communicating with someone over the phone. Eyewitnesses have reportedly told the media that the perpetrator’s actions were being “coordinated” by someone. Voters staged similar provocations in the Voronezh, Rostov and Karachay-Cherkessia regions.

Another woman was arrested after setting fire to a voting booth in St. Petersburg. She threw a Molotov cocktail at the signboard inside the polling station, according to RIA Novosti. Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has demanded tougher security in light of the incidents.

Ella Pamfilova, chair of Russia’s Central Election Committee, said that several of those who poured liquid into ballot boxes were paid to do so. Some of the detainees reportedly claimed to have been duped into carrying out attacks by scammers, who said their bank accounts had fallen into the hands of fraudsters and that they were forced to commit the provocations in order to get their money back.

The casting of ballots will run through Sunday. President Vladimir Putin, who is seeking a fifth term in office, is being opposed by three candidates: Nikolay Kharitonov from the Communist Party, Vladislav Davankov of the New People party, and Leonid Slutsky of the Liberal Democrats.

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