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Vladimir Putin’s party wins elections in Ukraine’s annexed territories

Moscow claimed Sunday evening the victory of Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, in the elections organized in the territories annexed to Ukraine, with more than 70% of the votes, ballots considered “illegal” by kyiv and its allies.

Russia’s Central Election Commission said Sunday evening that the United Russia party came first in these regional elections in the four territories annexed to Ukraine. The chairwoman of the electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, welcomed the elections that took place “dynamically, with few violations”.

With these elections spread over three days, from Friday to Sunday, Moscow is trying to legitimize its annexations in Ukraine by having the occupied territories in the East and the South vote.

Despite strong condemnations from the West, Russia proclaimed in September 2022 the annexation of four Ukrainian territories that it only partially controls – Zaporizhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk –, following “referendums” not recognized by the International community.

In the four annexed Ukrainian regions, the occupation authorities have bent over backwards to present a semblance of normality, despite the ongoing fighting.

In the Donetsk region, voters cast ballots adorned with the Russian double-headed eagle, while in the Kherson region, the governor, Vladimir Saldo, declared a non-working Friday so that every citizen could “express one’s position”.

The Russians also voted on Sunday in these regional elections without suspense, in a context of muzzled opposition, where critical voices of the Ukrainian conflict are unceremoniously repressed.

For more than a year and a half, thousands of Russians have in fact been sentenced, sometimes to heavy sentences, for protesting against the offensive in Ukraine. And no real opposition “outside the system” is not represented: the opponents are either in prison or in exile.

The vote was held a few months before the presidential election, scheduled for early 2024, which could consolidate Vladimir Putin in power until 2030.

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