October 4, 2022

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Separatist leaders in four Ukrainian regions say referendums on joining Russia have begun

A service member of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) votes during a referendum on joining LPR to Russia, at a military unit in Luhansk, Ukraine, on September 23.
Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Vladimir Vysotsky visits a polling station ahead of the planned referendum on the accession of the Donetsk People’s Republic to Russia, in Donetsk, Ukraine, on September 22 (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Four regions of Ukraine occupied by pro-Moscow forces are Getting ready for the polls on formally joining Russia, in a move widely seen as a lost result of supporting annexation.

Referendums, which run counter to international law supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, could pave the way for Moscow to frame the current Ukrainian counter-offensive as an attack on Russia itself.

Voting is scheduled to take place over five days, from Friday to Tuesday.

The questions on the ballot vary slightly by region.

  • In the Donetsk People’s Republic, the question asked only in Russian, will be: “Do you support the accession of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Russian Federation on the rights of one of the subjects of the Russian Federation?” announced Luhansk People’s Republic It uses the same wording.
  • in Khersonthe question will be: “Do you support the separation of the Kherson region from the state of Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by the Kherson region and its accession to the Russian Federation as one of the subjects of the Russian Federation?”
  • And in the occupied parts of Zaporizhiathe question is in Russian and Ukrainian, and reads as follows: “Do you vote for the secession of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast from Ukraine, the formation of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast as an independent state and its accession to the Russian Federation as a sub-entity of the Russian Federation?”

In the Luhansk and Zaporizhia regions, local authorities urged people to vote from their homes, saying that ballot boxes could be brought to them.

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Before the vote, the pro-Russian authorities are trying to excite voters. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti showed a poster being distributed in Luhansk that read “Russia is the future.”

“We are united by a 1,000-year history,” she says. “For centuries, we have been part of the same great country. The disintegration of the state was a huge political catastrophe…It is time to restore historical justice.”

Military vehicle running along the street with a billboard "With Russia forever, September 27" Before the referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on September 22.
A military vehicle runs along a street with a billboard reading “Forever with Russia, September 27” before the referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on September 22 (AP)

In a statement, the election monitoring group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, condemned the “illegal referendums”.

“Any purported ‘referendums’ planned by or with the support of illegally exercising forces de facto The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors elections in 57 member states, said that taking control of the occupied territories in Ukraine would be in violation of international standards and obligations under international humanitarian law, and therefore its results would not have legal force.

Ukraine has reject referendums In the occupied territories as a “hoax” stemming from “fear of defeat”, while the country’s Western supporters made it clear that they would never recognize Russia’s claim to the annexed Ukrainian lands.