Rinkēvičs: Jābūt gataviem nosargāt savu brīvību



Krievijas "vēlēšanās" Rīgā gan Putina pretinieki, gan atbalstītāji

Russian presidential 'election' shows 2% turnout in Latvia

Voters in the so-called Russian presidential "elections" gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Riga on Sunday, March 17. Several protests were also held there. Law enforcement officers monitored the situation and several people were detained, Latvian Radio and Latvian Television reported.

In the morning, the crowd was mostly elderly and many people said that they were ready to support the current Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, no matter what.

"Who did I vote for? Well, for Putin, of course! That's my president. I have stood and I will stand for Putin!" said one voter. Meanwhile, another voter said, "I am for the freedom of Russia and the freedom of Latvia!".

As the voting queue outside the embassy grew longer, more and more young people joined in, answering the call of the widow of Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader who died in Russia, to take part in a protest against Putin at noon.

Sergey Bespalov, persecuted by the Kremlin and former chief of staff of Navalny in Irkutsk, has also lined up to vote against Putin. "I think that in my case I will not be given a ballot because I am accused in Russia, I am wanted, my passport has expired and I am on the terrorist list. But the funny thing is that under Russian law this is no reason to refuse. So it will be a little experiment."

Some of the people interviewed by Latvian Radio refused to comment on what they expected from this so-called "election", but those voters who agreed to talk admitted that they did not really see any point in it, but that they had come to do their civic duty and expressed the hope that by voting against the current Russian leader Vladimir Putin, someone else would be elected president.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the street, several protests took place against Putin.

Protesters shouted slogans such as "Putin is a murderer" and "Glory to Ukraine". One protester came with a bucket of tomato juice, which was spilled to symbolize the Ukrainian blood spilled by Russia.

The anti-Putin protest started with the playing of the Latvian and Ukrainian anthems and continued throughout the protest with various songs, speeches, and the laying of flowers at the memorial of Navalny.

When asked what they thought about the protest taking place across the street, the "voters" mostly said that they did not pay attention to it and that it would not change their decision to take part in the so-called "elections" for the Russian presidency.

Police observation shows that the turnout was extremely low, amounting to only 2.38% of all eligible Russian citizens in Latvia.

The State Police checked 1,001 Russian Federation citizens who came to vote. 24 of them had expired residence permits.

Three more persons were subject to administrative proceedings for violation of the Immigration Law.

"Their residence permits have been canceled because they had not started the procedures required by law to renew their residence permits. So these documents are taken away, the persons sign a certificate stating that they have been informed that they have to come to the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs to receive a voluntary departure order, and administrative offense proceedings are initiated in parallel," explained Guntis Pujāts, Head of the State Border Guard.

Four people were administratively detained. Two were detained for disturbing public order, one for using symbols of military aggression and war crimes in a public place, and one for aggressive behavior towards another person, threatening to harm him.

The State Police concludes that, overall, the so-called "elections" of the Russian President took place without any significant incidents in terms of public order and security in Latvia.

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