MOSCOW, April 1./TASS/. Kiev behaved in a criminal manner by stripping Ukrainian nationals of the opportunity to vote at potential polling stations at Ukraine’s foreign missions in Russia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said in an interview with the International Affairs magazine on Monday.
Different sources put the number of Ukrainian nationals staying in Russia at three to four million at any given point in time, with most of them having the right to suffrage, Karasin said.
"I don’t think anyone could give the exact number of the people willing to vote. I believe their numbers would have been quite large if this could have been done without leaving Russia, at Ukraine’s foreign missions," the diplomat said.
"Nevertheless, Kiev had initially decided against opening polling stations there, thus depriving its fellow countrymen of the possibility to vote. This is criminal," the diplomat stressed.
"Of course, knowingly disadvantaging the expression of free will casts a shadow on the whole election process," the diplomat noted. "This inevitably invites questions to the authorities, who are thus trying to influence the results of the vote," he added.
"The legitimacy of the elections depends on how honest and transparent they were, and on whether they were in compliance with the generally accepted standards and democratic rules," he continued. "So far, the current election campaign has every chance of making it into the history books as the most vulgar, dirty and bitterly-fought race," the diplomat stressed.
Ukraine held the first round of the presidential election on Sunday. With 78.35% of the ballots counted, showman and head of the Servant of the People political party Vladimir Zelensky won 30.41% of the vote, while incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko came in second with 16.06%. The leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party Yulia Timoshenko garnered 13.23%, taking third place. The runoff is scheduled for April 21.