Two dead in new attacks on Russia in the midst of the presidential elections

Russian regions bordering Ukraine were subjected to new strikes on Saturday, leaving at least two people dead, in the midst of the decided presidential elections of President Vladimir Putin, who vowed to respond to those attacks.

In the city of Belgorod, which is subject to successive attacks, “two people, a man and a woman, were killed,” according to what the region’s governor, Vyatislav Gladkov, said via Telegram, also noting that eight missiles were shot down.

He explained that the man was killed after his truck was hit in the strike, while the woman died in the parking lot. The latter’s son was seriously injured, and “doctors are working hard to save his life.” Two other people were also injured.

A video clip on social media showed a powerful explosion in a parking lot, sending one of the vehicles flying.

As a result, the city authorities announced that they would close commercial centers and schools on Monday and Tuesday.

In the afternoon, the governor also announced that air defenses shot down 15 missiles as they approached the city.

Putin pledged on Friday that Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory would not go “without punishment.”

Kiev has vowed months ago to move the conflict to the other side of the border, in response to the attacks and bombing that have continued for more than two years.

In recent weeks, aerial bombardment has intensified, and fighters presenting themselves as anti-Putin Russians say they are carrying out armed incursions, while the Russian army announces that it has repelled attempts by groups from Ukraine to infiltrate the Belgorod region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that Putin is “regularly informed” by military officials about the situation at the border, stressing that new infiltration attempts by “Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups” were thwarted at night.

“Our regions are suffering”

These attacks come as the Kremlin seeks, with the presidential elections that began Friday and ends Sunday, to show Russia united behind its leader.

At a polling station in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, most voters interviewed by AFP expressed their support for the outgoing president.

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

Lyubov Pyankova, a 70-year-old retiree, said: “The actions that the West is inflicting on us will only lead to the greater unification of the Russian people.”

The outcome of the elections is settled in light of the complete absence of the opposition.

But voting was marred by obstacles on Friday, with damage recorded in polling stations.

Since Friday, 15 people have been arrested in several areas for pouring dye into ballot boxes, throwing a Molotov cocktail at a polling station, and setting another on fire.

Some of them face up to five years in prison on charges of obstructing the electoral process, according to the authorities.

Authorities in Russian Kaliningrad said that a woman was arrested on Saturday for pouring green liquid into a ballot box in this region. 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 ballot boxes resembles a surgical disinfectant that was used during attacks on Russian opponents, including Alexei Navalny, in recent years.

The exact motives for these actions are not known. But the head of the Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said that the perpetrators of these crimes were promised money from “scoundrels from abroad.”

These incidents led to enhanced security measures at polling stations in Crimea, according to what the authorities of the peninsula, which was annexed by Russia, told the RIA Novosti news agency. Voting is also taking place in the occupied Ukrainian territories, which Kiev denounces.

State media broadcast images of voting in the city of Avdiivka, located in eastern Ukraine, which was recently captured by Russian forces and destroyed by battles.

At a polling station in Moscow, on Friday, Nadezhda (23 years old) told Agence France-Presse that in her surroundings, “we are all accustomed to the idea that everything has already been decided for us, and there is nothing we can do about it.”

She added that she came to vote to avoid having “problems” with her employer.

In every election held in Russia, specialized NGOs, the opposition, and the media accuse public administrations and companies of forcing their employees to vote on pain of penalties.

According to the independent website “The Bell”, which is classified by Moscow as a “foreign agent”, the Russian airline Aeroflot forced its employees to vote.

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