Just minutes after the Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had cast his ballot for the presidential election, three Femen activists appeared topless at the well secured polling station in Moscow.
The bare-breasted women, who had slogans written across their chests such as "I steal for Putin" and "Thief 3", tried to steal the ballot box with Putin’s vote in it. Shortly after, the Ukrainian activists were taken away from the polling station in the Russian Academy of Sciences by the police, and are now facing up to 15 days in jail for disorderly conduct.
Reportedly, Putin has high chances for winning the third mandate and returning to the Kremlin – the latest polls showed the former KGB agent is set up for the victory with 60 per cent of the vote in the first round. His main challenger, Gennady ZyuganovGennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party, is expected to take the second place with only 15 percent.
Meanwhile, the media report on widespread voting violations across Russia. The independent monitoring group Golos claims it had already registered 2,030 reports of violations - but the Russia’s authorities deny there had been any major violations.
Following a mass outrage over alleged fraud during December’s parliamentary election, the presidential vote is being observed by up to 30,000 monitors across Russia to try to prevent vote rigging. In addition, there are 250,000 webcams at the one hundred thousand polling stations.
Nevertheless, the opposition says it all isn’t enough to ensure fairness.
”People in Russia are not going to recognize Putin's victory in the first round” Alexei Navalny, anticorruption blogger and activist, told the Associated Press. He also invited his followers to a march on Manezh Square, just outside the Kremlin's walls.
Indeed, it seems a reprise December's mass protests after the election is certain. Both pro and anti-Putin demonstrations are to be held in Moscow on Monday.