MOSCOW -- Moscow says Russian passport holders in parts of eastern Ukraine that are controlled by Russia-backed separatists will be able to vote online in upcoming Russian parliamentary elections.
According to a resolution adopted by Russia’s Central Election Commission on July 20, Russian passport-holding residents in separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions will have to register and cast their vote online if they want to take part in the September 19 elections.
In May, the Russian Interior Ministry said that 527,000 residents of the two Ukrainian regions known as the Donbas had obtained Russian passports.
In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the issuance of Russian passports to Donbas residents, sparking harsh criticism from Kyiv and Western governments who accused Moscow of trying to further destabilize the situation in Ukraine's east.
Fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 13,200 people in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions since April 2014.
Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow maintains it is not involved in Ukraine's domestic affairs.
Moscow also seized control of Ukraine’s Black Sea Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.