News World

Baltics say upcoming Russian election ‘neither free nor fair’

Georgia runoff Senate vote a new test for Biden
Source: Pixabay

Foreign ministers from the Baltic countries said Monday that an upcoming Russian presidential vote will be “neither free nor fair”, as there are no real challengers to Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader is gearing up to extend his two-decade hold on power in an election on March 15-17, amid Western outrage over the Ukraine war and the death of the Kremlin’s most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny.

In a joint statement, top diplomats of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — NATO and EU members — denounced a “total crackdown” on opposition and independent media in Russia.

“The upcoming presidential ‘elections’ in Russia will be neither free nor fair,” they said, slamming the “lack of credible alternative candidates”.

“These elections will lack any democratic legitimacy,” said the ministers from the Baltic former Soviet republics.

Also Monday, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry summoned a Russian envoy over Navalny’s death.

The diplomat was handed a protest note and was told that “all responsibility for Navalny’s death falls on Putin and the Kremlin regime he leads”, the ministry said in a statement.

Russia has for years sidelined opposition figures from elections and political life, a clampdown that accelerated after the Kremlin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in 2022.

The election coincides with 10th anniversary of annexation of Crimea, which is “yet another blatant provocation by Russia”, the ministers said.

Russia also plans to hold the election in territories it annexed both in 2014 and following the invasion.

“We firmly support Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukraine,” ministers said.

Russia summoned envoys of Baltic states earlier in February, accusing them of trying to “sabotage” the election by ignoring requests to provide security for voting stations at its embassies.

Baltic ministers responded by saying Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania respected their “international obligations to ensure the security of diplomatic missions and their staff in our countries, and will continue doing so”.

About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter