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Kiev barred Russians from voting on Ukrainian soil out of fear, says lower house speaker

A lawmaker says Kiev blocked Russian citizens from accessing polling stations in presidential elections on the territory of Ukraine fearing that many of them would strongly support Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. Kiev blocked Russian citizens from accessing polling stations in Russia’s presidential election on the territory of Ukraine fearing that many of them would strongly support Vladimir Putin, Speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin said on Tuesday.

"If voting was allowed on the territory of Ukraine, and Russian citizens could have expressed their opinion in the Russian presidential election, then Vladimir Putin would have received the same high level of support that he got in other countries. That was what Ukraine’s leaders feared," Volodin stressed.

In his view, that would make Kiev’s policy and ideology against Russia null and void. "They realized what the choice of Russian citizens living in Ukraine would be… That was the reason why they did everything they could to prevent people from making this choice," the speaker concluded.

Ukraine’s authorities have gone beyond legal terrain by denying access to Russian diplomatic missions for Russian nationals during the election, he said.

"Ukraine is drifting further away from the international legal terrain. It is absolutely obvious that it is setting itself in opposition to both the European Union and the world community, which would never forgive such things to any other country," he said. "Ukraine is excused for that due to one simple reason - because it is used against Russia, to weaken Russia."

On March 8, organizations of Ukrainian nationalists promised to break down voting at polling stations in Russian diplomatic missions in Ukraine on March 18, the presidential election day in Russia. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on March 16 that Russian nationals would be denied access to Russian diplomatic missions in Ukraine, namely in Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa and Lvov, on Sunday. Hundreds of Ukrainian security officers and policemen and nationalists blocked access to the Russian Embassy in Kiev since Saturday night. They checked passports and allowed only diplomats into the building. Similar restrictions for Russian citizens were reported outside consulates-general in Odessa, Kharkov and Lvov. As a result, only diplomats and diplomatic missions’ employees were able to take part in the voting.

Nevertheless, several hundred Russian nationals ultimately managed to cast their votes as they took part in an early voting organized ahead of the voting day.

According to the Russian Central Election Commission, as many as 72,000 Russian nationals enjoying the right to vote are registered with Russia’s consular institutions in Ukraine.