Sparks fly in Ukraine as Russia prepares for election by Kim Sengupta

The real and highly contentious issue is not a polling station for Russian nationals in Kiev but the fact that Crimea, annexed by Vladimir Putin two years ago, will take part in the election and send deputies to the duma in Moscow.

In Ukraine this is regarded as a big step to absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation in flagrant violation of international law. President Poroshenko, who has charged that Crimea has “been turned into a concentration camp of the best Soviet standards”  warned that Crimean residents who take part in the election will face sanctions.

US President Barack Obama’s administration also stressed that extending the elections to Crimea was illegal. “The United States does not recognise the legitimacy and will not recognise the outcome of the elections planned for Russian-occupied Crimea,” said State Department  spokesperson John Kirby. “Our position on Crimea is clear: the peninsula remains an integral part of Ukraine. Crimea-related sanctions against Russia will remain until Russia returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”

The US was also concerned, he added, “about the humanitarian situation in Crimea, including the status of the ethnic Tatar community and widespread reports of missing persons and human rights abuses.”

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to President Vladimir Putin stated that “outside demands” to halt the Crimea polls will be ignored. “Russia has no intention to enter into any discussions with foreign nations concerning the election process on its own territory,” he declared.