March 19, 2024

Election Rebellion: Paint It Green!


Election Rebellion: Paint It Green!
Ballots stained with green paint in Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Oblast. Bloknot Voronezh, Telegram.

On March 15, Russia's 2024 presidential elections were opened to the public. But some voters voiced their displeasure by pouring bright green dye, known as zelyonka, and ink into ballot boxes. Protesters could face fines of up to R80,000 ($865) and up to five years in prison.

Security footage from a Moscow school shows a young woman pouring zelyonka into a ballot box. Allegedly, the woman then began screaming pro-Ukrainian slogans and talking with someone over the phone. Baza suspects the woman was acting under instructions. The investigative committee of Moscow announced it had opened a criminal case against a woman for impeding the electoral process.  

In Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Oblast, there were two separate instances of residents staining ballots with green ink. In one instance, police stopped a woman, and the ballot boxes were sealed. Voronezh police confirmed they had opened criminal cases against two voters, aged 58 and 66.

Ink pourers were also reported in Azov, Rostov Oblast, and in Karachay-Cherkessia. The deputy chairman of the Central Election Commission, Nikolay Bulayev, claimed, "It is clear [the ink pourers] were promised money and rewards." Bulayev also called for strengthening security around ballot boxes.

Zelyonka holds a special place in Russian collective memory. This antiseptic with a characteristic bright green color was originally used to treat wounds. However it garnered a new meaning after Russian opposition leaders were attacked with zelyonka mixed with toxic substances. The late Aleksei Navalny was among the victims of these attacks. The anti-corruption activist notably embraced his green skin as a campaign strategy, with many Russians uploading pictures covered in grass-colored paint in solidarity.

The incumbent president and possible mastermind of the murder of Navalny, Vladimir Putin, is expected to win this election cycle, allowing him to stay in power until at least 2030.

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