In its December 17 intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry says Russia is going to extend voting in its 2024 presidential election to occupied Ukrainian regions in a move by Russian authorities to rig results and present the invasion of Ukraine as legitimate.
The ministry tweeted:
- On 11 December 2023, the Russian Central Election Commission announced that voting in the March 2024 presidential election would extend to the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. This follows their inclusion in the September 2023 Russian regional elections.
- As with the regional elections, it is almost certain that presidential election voting in the Russian-controlled regions will be neither free nor fair. The Russian authorities almost certainly see achieving the ‘correct’ results in these regions as a priority because they want to give the perception of legitimacy to Russia’s invasion.
- The Russian administration will almost certainly utilise methods including substantive electoral fraud and voter intimidation to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin wins in the regions by a substantial margin.