Russia can hold elections in new regions – officials

It is “possible” to stage a presidential election in the four formerly Ukrainian territories, Russia’s electoral authority says

Holding March 2024 presidential elections in Russia’s new regions is “possible,” the country’s Central Election Commission announced on Monday.

The prospects of holding elections in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, as well as Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics, were accessed by the representatives of the commission itself, the Defense Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the local authorities of the four regions.

“All parties to the consultations consider it possible to hold the presidential elections on the territories of these constituent entities of the Russian Federation,” the commission said in a statement.

The four territories were integrated into Russia last fall after the idea was overwhelmingly backed by the local population at separately held referendums. Shortly after the votes, the new territories, which remain the scene of the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, were put under martial law.

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According to Russian legislation, holding elections is suspended in constituencies under martial law, yet the Central Election Commission is capable of enabling polls should it deem that possible.

The regions are currently only under partial control of Russia, with only the LPR’s territory freed from the Ukrainian forces almost completely. Kiev’s forces are still in control of a sizeable part of the DPR, as well as of Zaporozhye and Kherson, where they held vast parts of the region’s territories and the namesake cities.

The upcoming presidential election is set to be held over a three-day period from March 15–17. The extended multi-day format has been used in other elections in Russia since it was first introduced during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced his intent to seek reelection, making the statement on the matter last week when he hosted distinguished servicemen in the Kremlin to award them Hero of Russia medals.

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