The Moldovan government’s decision to limit voting in the forthcoming presidential election of Russia to the premises of the Russian embassy in Chisinau has ignited controversy, with Russian Ambassador Oleg Vasnetsov expressing disappointment over the move.
According to the Russian Ambassador, Oleg Vasnetsov, the Foreign Ministry of Moldova informed the Russian embassy on February 7 of a political decision to allow voting solely within the embassy’s premises. This decision effectively forbids the opening of polling stations in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, a move considered unacceptable by the Moldovan ministry.
Ambassador Vasnetsov underscored that the Russian diplomatic mission had notified Moldovan authorities three months prior about its intention to arrange voting for Russian citizens residing in Moldova. He restated that the request for polling station security was a standard procedure in international practice, consistent with protocols observed by both the Russian embassy in Chisinau and Moldovan diplomatic missions when organizing voting processes.
Meanwhile, Russia has designated March 17, 2024, as the date for its presidential election, with the Central Election Commission (CEC) determining a three-day voting period from March 15 to 17. This marks a departure from earlier elections, making it Russia’s first three-day presidential election.
In March 2018, a total of around 27 polling stations were opened for the Russian presidential election in Moldova. 24 of which were in Transnistria where most of the Russian citizens reside and 3 of the polling stations were in Moldova. Post the President of Moldova Maia Sandu and her pro-European Action and Solidarity Party came into power, the relations between Chisinau and Moscow declined.
The decision to limit voting locations in Moldova has increased concerns about the accessibility and inclusivity of the electoral process for Russian citizens residing in the country. Critics argue that limiting voting to the embassy’s premises may disqualify individuals unable to travel to Chisinau, particularly those living in Transnistria or remote areas.
As tensions persist between Moldova and Transnistria, the exclusion of polling stations in the breakaway region adds another layer of complexity to the electoral process. It remains to be seen how this decision will impact voter turnout and perceptions of the election’s legitimacy.