Home LATEST NEWS Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine hold ‘fake’ referendums to join Russia

Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine hold ‘fake’ referendums to join Russia


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Voting began Friday in Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia, Russian-backed officials there said.

The Kremlin orchestrated referendumswhich have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams without any legal force, are seen as a step towards Russia’s annexation of the territories.

Voting will take place in the Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, partially controlled by Russia.

People walk on a street holding a sign reading “Our choice: Russia” ahead of a referendum in Lugansk, Russian-backed separatist controlled Lugansk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, on September 22, 2022.

The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, is sure to go Moscow’s way. That would give Russia the pretext to claim that the Ukrainian forces’ attempts to regain control are attacks against Russia itself, escalating dramatically. the seven month old was.

The referendums follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for a partial mobilization, which could add around 300,000 Russian soldiers to the fight. Voting will continue for five days until Tuesday.

As the votes in the occupied regions progressed, Russian social media was filled with dramatic scenes of tearful families waving goodbye to men leaving military mobilization centers. In cities across the vast country, men hugged their tearful relatives before leaving as part of the recruitment. Russian anti-war activists, meanwhile, planned more protests against the mobilization.

Election officials will deliver ballots to people’s homes and set up makeshift polling stations near residential buildings for the first four days of the referendums, according to Russian-installed officials in the occupied regions, citing security reasons. Tuesday will be the only day voters will be invited to attend the regular polls.

Ballot boxes have also been opened in Russia, where refugees from the occupied regions can cast their votes.

Denis Pushilin, separatist leader of the Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region, called Friday’s referendum “a historic milestone.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, addressed the occupied regions on Friday in an online statement, saying: “If you decide to become part of the Russian Federation, we will support you.”

Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said residents of the occupied regions voted “life or death” in referendums.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy only briefly mentioned “fake referendums” in his late-night speech in which he switched from speaking Ukrainian to Russian to directly tell Russian citizens that they are being “thrown to their deaths.”

“You are already complicit in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians,” he said. “Because you were silent. Because you are silent. And now it’s your turn to choose. For men in Russia, this is a choice between living or dying, becoming crippled or staying healthy. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, children, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person.”

The vote takes place against the backdrop of incessant fighting in Ukraine, with Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging fire as both sides refuse to give ground.

On Friday morning, pro-Russian officials in the Zaporizhzhia region reported a massive explosion in the center of Melitopol, a city Moscow captured early in the war. Officer Vladimir Rogov did not provide details on what caused the explosion and whether there were any damages or casualties.

Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region also accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the city of Donetsk, the region’s capital, and the nearby town of Yasynuvata.

Ukrainian officials, in turn, reported further rounds of Russian shelling in various parts of the country. Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine that borders the Kherson region, said explosions occurred in the city of Mykolaiv in the early hours of Friday.

Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said the Russians launched a barrage of bombing raids on Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, on Friday morning.

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