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Estonian minister: Vienna Convention bars obstructing Russian citizens voting at embassy

Margus Tsahkna.
Margus Tsahkna. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Russian citizens resident in Estonia who wish to vote in next year's presidential election in Russia, which they can do at the embassy in Tallinn, are not to be hindered in their actions, Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) says, citing the relevant international convention.

The Russian presidential election is likely to take place on March 15-17 next year, ERR reports.

Under the terms of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, interfering in the process of voting at Russia's embassy in Estonia is off the table, Minister Tsahkna (pictured) said Thursday.

"To my knowledge, Russia has not presented an official note at this point in time, but if you simply look at the legal principle, allowing elections for its citizens within the territory of its embassy falls under the Vienna Convention," Tsahkna told ERR.

"We would demand the same from Russia and other countries regarding our citizens [voting abroad]," he added.

This is unrelated to any concerns about the legitimacy, fairness or transparency of the Russian presidential elections, Tsahkna said, adding that this is an entirely separate issue.

The exception here is the holding of elections of those Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, counter to international law, namely Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Tsahkna also said that the fact that Russian citizens resident in Estonia will be voting in the elections in the Russian Federation can be the subject of a wider societal discussion.

While the Russian constitution provides for a second-round run-off vote should any candidate fail to secure 50 percent or more of the vote, in practice Vladimir Putin's insecurity is such that Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is barred from taking part in the election.

At the time of writing, Navalny had been found to have been relocated to the IK-3  penal colony in Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District of Siberia, after two weeks of his lawyers being unaware of his whereabouts.

While several other candidates are declared as running, a Putin victory is seen as a foregone conclusion, riding on the wave of his military's "success" in its invasion of Ukraine.

Alterations to the Russian constitution, which had previously barred multiple consecutive presidential terms, could mean Putin remaining at the helm until 2036, by which time he would be 84 years of age and would have been in office for 36 years.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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