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Belgorod Responds to Air Strikes: Schools and Shops Closed in Precaution

Schools and shops in the Russian city of Belgorod have shuttered following bombardments, which local authorities attribute to Ukraine. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported two fatalities amid ongoing voting in a general election that virtually guarantees Vladimir Putin’s victory.

According to Mr. Gladkov, air defense systems intercepted eight Ukrainian missiles. President Putin accused Ukraine of attempting to disrupt his reelection bid for another six-year term.

In response to the attacks, Belgorod officials announced the closure of schools on Monday and Tuesday and shopping centers on Sunday and Monday. Tragically, one woman lost her life in a car park while walking her dog with her son, who is now fighting for his life, the governor disclosed.

Social media images depicted smoke and flames billowing from the car park. Belgorod has faced several retaliatory strikes from Kyiv.

The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged causing losses in Ukraine’s border regions and the Belgorod and Kursk areas. Additionally, Ukrainian drones targeted two oil refineries in the Samara region, southeast of Moscow, according to Governor Dmitry Azarov. One refinery in Syzran caught fire, but no casualties were reported. Reuters reported that Kyiv’s SBU intelligence agency targeted three Rosneft refineries in the Samara region.

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Kyiv has not responded to the attacks in Belgorod. The ongoing elections, criticized as neither free nor fair, are expected to secure another term for Mr. Putin, who faces no significant opposition. Potential candidates critical of Russia’s actions in Ukraine were barred from running, and Alexei Navalny, Mr. Putin’s prominent critic, died in custody last month, with his supporters accusing the Kremlin of foul play, which the Russian government vehemently denies.

Yulia Navalnaya, Mr. Navalny’s widow, called for Kremlin opponents to protest the elections at polling stations on Sunday at noon. Despite the skewed nature of the elections, voting on Friday witnessed vandalism at polling stations, with incidents including pouring green dye into ballot boxes, setting boxes on fire, and detonating fireworks inside stations, as reported by state media.

“They try to scare us, but this is not a nation that can be intimidated,” remarked 68-year-old Elena Kirsanova. On Saturday, the ruling United Russia party reported a significant hacking attack on its website.

Voting in Russia spans three days until Sunday, covering various time zones from the Kamchatka Peninsula’s opening at 08:00 local time on Friday to the closing in the westernmost Kaliningrad exclave at 20:00 on Sunday.

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