Russians in Ukraine to be blocked from voting in presidential poll: Kiev

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Kiev (AFP)

Russians living in Ukraine will be unable to vote in Russia's presidential election because access to Moscow's diplomatic missions will be blocked, Kiev said Friday.

"On Sunday, March 18, 2018, security arrangements for Russia's Ukraine-based diplomatic missions in Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa and Lviv will not provide access to these facilities for Russian nationals voting in the election," Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov said.

The announcement came in retaliation for Russia's annexation of Crimea, which votes in a presidential election for the first time since it was taken over in 2014.

"Ukraine's interior ministry states that conducting illegal elections on Ukraine's sovereign territory in violation of all norms of international law is unacceptable," Avakov said on Facebook.

He also pointed to "Russia's aggressive hybrid war against Ukraine" and "the occupation of parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions" in eastern Ukraine.

Sunday's date March 18 will mark four years since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty that declared Crimea part of Russia following its annexation from Ukraine, a move that led to the outbreak of a pro-Kremlin insurgency in the industrial east of the ex-Soviet country in April 2014.

Putin, who has ruled Russia for 18 years, is polling at around 70 percent and is expected to extend his term to 2024.