Despite protests from Kiev, thousands of people from the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine have voted in the Russian parliamentary election.
By Sunday afternoon, more than 150,000 residents with Russian passports had participated, Russian authorities said, according to the state agency Tass.
Eligible voters from several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were reportedly transported free of charge by hundreds of buses and trains to the neighbouring Russian region of Rostov-on-Don to vote.
There were photos and videos of full buses with people waving the Russian flag. In addition, Russian citizens living in the territories were able to vote online in almost 400 "information centres."
The independent internet portal meduza.io wrote that in some cases last-minute Russian citizenships were being issued in an effort to increase the turnout during the three-day election.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry previously spoke of the "forced participation" of Ukrainian citizens in the Russian elections and at the same time criticized the opening of polling stations in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Since 2019, Ukrainians from the separatist territories have been able to obtain Russian passports in a facilitated procedure that has been criticized internationally.
According to information from Moscow, more than half a million documents have already been issued. In Crimea, around 1.5 million residents are considered eligible to vote.