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Russians In Ukraine Barred From Voting In Presidential Poll

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov

Russians living in Ukraine will be unable to vote in Russia's presidential election because access to Moscow's diplomatic missions will be blocked, Kyiv said March 16.

"On Sunday, March 18, 2018, security arrangements for Russia's Ukraine-based diplomatic missions in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Lviv will not provide access to these facilities for Russian nationals voting in the election," Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Facebook.

The announcement came in retaliation for Russia's annexation of Crimea, which votes in a presidential election for the first time since it was taken over in 2014.

Avakov wrote on Facebook on March 16 that despite Kyiv's official protest and warning that it will allow Russian citizens to vote in Russian diplomatic missions across Ukraine only on condition that Moscow refrains from holding elections on "the Ukrainian territories temporarily occupied by Russia," Russia did not change its plans.

"Ukraine's interior ministry states that conducting illegal elections on Ukraine's sovereign territory in violation of all norms of international law is unacceptable," Avakov said on Facebook.

Moscow's Foreign Ministry responded by criticizing what it called Ukrainian "overt interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation."

It accused Kyiv of displaying "righteous indignation" and "taking their revenge on ordinary Russian citizens."

March 18 will mark four years since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty that declared Crimea part of Russia following its annexation from Ukraine, a move that led to the outbreak of a conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's industrial east in April 2014.

More than 10,300 people have been killed in the figthing since then.

Avakov also mentioned "Russia's aggressive hybrid war against Ukraine" and "the occupation of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions" in eastern Ukraine.

With reporting by AFP
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