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Two dead in new attacks on Russian soil during the presidential election

Photo: @vvgladkov on Telegram via Agence France-Presse Images on social media show a strong explosion at a parking lot, with one of the parked cars being thrown by the force of the blast.

France Media Agency in Moscow

1:15 p.m.

  • Europe

The Russian regions bordering Ukraine suffered new strikes on Saturday, attacks which left at least two dead, in the middle of the presidential election, and which Vladimir Putin, promised a triumphant re-election, has sworn to avenge.

In Belgorod, a city very close to Ukraine and often targeted, “two people died, a man and a woman”, indicated on Telegram the governor of the region of the same name, Vyacheslav Gladkov, adding that eight rockets had been shot down.

He said the man died when his truck was hit, and the woman was killed at a parking lot. The latter's son was seriously injured and doctors are “fighting for his life.” Two other people were injured.

A video, published on social networks, shows a strong explosion at a parking lot, one of the parked cars being thrown by the force of the blast.

Due to these attacks, Vyacheslav Gladkov announced that shopping centers in Belgorod would remain closed for two days, as would schools in the city and several districts.

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The governor announced in the afternoon that fifteen more rockets had been shot down by air defense as they approached the city.

On Friday, Vladimir Putin vowed that Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory would not go “unpunished”.

Ukraine has been promising for months to take the conflict across the border, in response to the offensive and bombing of the country for more than two years.

In recent weeks, airstrikes have intensified and fighters, presenting themselves as anti-Putin Russians, say they are carrying out armed incursions.

The Russian army announced on Saturday that it had repelled infiltration attempts by groups from Ukraine in the Belgorod region.

“Our regions are suffering”

These attacks occur while the Kremlin wants, with the presidential election launched on Friday and which will end on Sunday, to display the image of a united Russia behind its leader.

In a polling station in Saint Petersburg, Vladimir Putin's hometown, the vast majority of voters met by AFP expressed their support for the outgoing president.

“No one can replace him yet. That’s why I choose it,” said Konstantin, 46.

For Lyubov Piankova, a 70-year-old retiree, “the actions that the West is inflicting on us only unite the Russian people more.”

The result of the vote is beyond doubt, the opposition having been eradicated.

But the electoral process was marred by a certain number of damage to polling stations.

As of Friday, around fifteen people were arrested in several regions for pouring coloring into ballot boxes, throwing a Molotov cocktail at a polling station or setting fire to a voting booth.

Some of them risk up to five years in prison for obstructing the electoral process, according to the authorities.

On Saturday, a woman was arrested for pouring a green liquid into an urn in Kaliningrad, said the authorities of this Russian territory landlocked in the European Union. Another was arrested while “trying to introduce” green paint into a polling station in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, according to the Tass news agency.

The substance poured into urns resembles “zelionka”, a surgical antiseptic that has been used in attacks against Russian opponents, including Alexei Navalny, in recent years.

The precise motives for these acts are not known. The head of the electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, claimed that their authors were acting for money promised by “bastards, from abroad”.

These incidents have in any case led to a strengthening of security measures in polling stations in Crimea, the authorities of this annexed peninsula told the Ria Novosti news agency.

The vote is taking place in the occupied Ukrainian territories, which kyiv denounces. State media broadcast images of the vote in Avdiïvka, a town in the east of the country recently conquered by Russian forces and devastated by the fighting.

“We are all used to the idea that everything is already decided for us, there is nothing we can do about it,” commented Nadezhda, 23, in a Moscow polling station.

She said she went to vote because otherwise she would have “problems” with her employer.

At each election in Russia, administrations and public companies are accused by specialized NGOs, the opposition and the media, of orchestrating the vote of their employees, under penalty of sanctions.< /p>

According to the independent Russian media The Bell, classified as a “foreign agent”, the Russian airline Aeroflot thus forced its staff to go to the polls.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116