Russia in Ukraine: Sham referendums started in occupied territories

Status: 09/23/2022 08:23 a.m

Despite sharp international protests, mock referendums on annexation have started in four Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. They should run until Tuesday, after which a rapid annexation by Moscow is expected.

In the Moscow-occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine, the pro-Russian administration has launched mock referendums. Votes on the regions joining the Russian Federation are taking place in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass and in the southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia.

The separatist leader Denis Puschilin spoke of a historic day in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” recognized by Russia. “This referendum is crucial, it is a breakthrough into a new reality,” he said in a video published on the Telegram news channel. The Luhansk and Zaporizhia regions also informed about the start of voting.

Shaded in white: advance of the Russian army. Shaded in green: Russian-backed separatist areas. Crimea: annexed by Russia.

Image: ISW/09/21/2022

In the mock referendums, residents are asked if they want their region to become part of Russia. Hundreds of thousands of people have until September 27 to cast their votes. The Luhansk region announced that citizens who fled to Russia could also vote there. It is assumed that the “referendum” will turn out as desired by the Kremlin. After that, a rapid annexation by Moscow is expected.

Russia: “Right of self-determination of peoples”

With the help of the result, Russia wants to incorporate the areas and invokes the “right of self-determination of peoples”. Neither Ukraine nor the international community recognize the vote under occupying Russia. These are sham referendums because they are being held without Ukraine’s consent, under martial law and not according to democratic principles. Free work by international independent observers is also not possible.

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