Ukraine Steps Up Security At Russian Facilities, Blocks Most Russians From Voting

KIEV, Ukraine -- Security has been stepped up outside Russian government installations in Ukraine after Kiev announced that only diplomats would be allowed access to vote in Russia’s presidential election.

A nationalist rally near the Russian Embassy in Kiev on March 18.

Ukrainian police were guarding the Russian Embassy in Kiev and consular offices in Odessa, Lviv, and Kharkiv on March 18.

Members of Ukrainian national groups were reported to have gathered on a street near the Russian Embassy in the Ukrainian capital.

Russia has accused Ukraine of violating international norms.

"It is an open interference into the purely domestic affairs of the Russian Federation, which can entail escalation of tension in the already strained bilateral relations," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement quoted by TASS on March 18.

The Ukrainian government announced on March 16 that only Russian diplomats in Ukraine would be allowed to cast ballots in the election, which Vladimir Putin is set to win.

Millions of ethnic Russians live in Ukraine, but it is unclear how many are registered to vote in Russia. 

Ukraine is protesting voting in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula forcibly seized by Russia four years ago. Kiev is also angry with Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where more than 11,000 people have been killed in fighting since April 2014.

Source: Radio Free Europe