By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Moscow on Monday said the March 2024 presidential election will extend to Ukrainian regions which the Kremlin says have been annexed to Russia.
Voting would go ahead in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, Central Elections Commission says, even as Moscow does not have full military control in the regions.
The regions were forcefully ceded to Moscow in the military offensive launched Feb 2022 by Russia.
“The decision was adopted unanimously,” the state-run news agency TASS quoted the commission’s vice-president Nikolay Bulayev as saying.
The election in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to be re-elected will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17.
Putin may likely not face any major challenges in his bid for a fifth term as most of Russia’s opposition leaders are either jailed or in exile.
Five parties have been allowed to put forward a candidate for the 2024 vote without collecting signatures. All support the Kremlin and the military offensive in Ukraine.
Ukraine earlier urged the international community to “resolutely condemn Russia’s intention to hold presidential elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories”, an AFP report says.
Kyiv also called on the West to sanction individuals responsible.
Russia has previously held elections in occupied regions of Ukraine, votes denounced by Kyiv and the West as null and void.
Moscow held ballots for local officials in the four Ukrainian regions in September.
One year earlier it had held a “referendum” to annex the territories.
Russia unilaterally annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has held ballots there since.