Russia’s presidential election is not legal, free and fair

Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Republic of Poland


On 15-17 March 2024, Russia held a so-called presidential election. The voting took place amid harsh repressions against society, preventing it from making a free, democratic choice.

In breach of international law, the “election” was conducted also on temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine: in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, as well as in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson Oblasts. Other regions where the vote was held included Moldova’s Transnistria as well as Georgia’s Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Such “election” may not be considered legal, free and fair.

Since the start of war in Ukraine, Russia’s authorities have considerably stepped up their repressions against political opposition, civil society, non-governmental organisations, and independent media, as well as all citizens brave enough to criticise the actions of Russia’s regime, including its aggression against Ukraine. The devastating news about the death of Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader, in a penal colony was the tragic culmination of that activity. In view of Russia’s successive implementation of repressive law, limiting the citizens’ rights and freedoms, including political ones, along with war censorship, politically motivated prosecutions, and rejection of anti-war candidates, the “election” may not be considered free and fair.

Poland continues to strongly condemn such measures. We also object to Russia’s decision to prevent independent Russian observers from observing the vote and not to invite OSCE observers.

The Kremlin’s unlawful decision to conduct the election in the temporarily occupied parts of Ukraine deserves particular condemnation. It is an ostentatious violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and may only be treated as another attempt to undermine Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Poland does not and will never accept the conduct and the results of the “election” held on these territories. Russia should be held liable for having organised and conducted it on Ukraine’s territory.

Poland offers its unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within the country’s internationally recognised borders. We demand, moreover, that Russia immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops and weapons from the territory of Ukraine. In addition, we reiterate our call for Russia’s authorities to immediately release all political prisoners illegally detained in Russia.

Poland also strongly condemns the fact that the vote took place in Transnistria, Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and Abkhazia without permission of the Republic of Moldova’s and Georgia’s authorities respectively. In these cases as well, the “election” was held unlawfully, in breach of all standards of international law and democracy.



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John Pike