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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin exits a voting booth during the March 2018 presidential election. (Photo by Kyodo News Stills via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) said it is hacking online voting systems in Russia as the first day of the country's presidential election got underway on March 15.

A source in the agency confirmed to the Kyiv Independent it was currently making attempts to disrupt the vote, adding: "There are no elections or democracy there anyway."

Russia began three days of voting on March 15 in a pseudo-democratic presidential election that is expected to grant Vladimir Putin six more years in power.

The Russian president is up against three other contenders who all stand no realistic chance of winning, as the Kremlin has already gone to great lengths to make sure any viable rivals could not stand.

Potential contenders such as Boris Nadezhdin have been disqualified from the vote or, in the case of Alexei Navalny, imprisoned before dying while in detention.

Earlier on March 15, European Council President Charles Michel mocked Putin and "congratulated" him on his "landslide victory."

"Would like to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his landslide victory in the elections starting today," Michel wrote on X.

"No opposition. No freedom. No choice."

In 2020, Russia held a rigged vote to allow constitutional amendments that paved the way for Putin to run for two more terms after his current run expires this year.

The move effectively made him a dictator for life, as the 71-year-old is now able to serve for another 12 years.

Freedom House, a nonprofit advocating for international democracy, gave Russia a 0 out of 4 score in its 2023 report card on political freedoms in the country.

"Russia has never experienced a democratic transfer of power between rival groups," said Freedom House.

VSquare: Kremlin leaks, secret files reveal how Putin pre-rigged his reelection
Editor’s note: This investigation, based on leaks obtained by Delfi Estonia and compiled for a joint investigation with VSquare and Frontstory.pl, Expressen, Meduza and iStories, Paper Trail Media, Der Spiegel and ZDF, Der Standard, and Tamedia publications, has been republished by the Kyiv Independ…

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