Pro-Russians accuse Ukraine of attacks to prevent voting in referendum
Moscow, Sep 24 (EFE).- The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, claimed on Saturday that Ukraine was striking several cities in the region in an attempt to prevent people from voting in the referendum.
“The adversary is trying with all its means to thwart the referendum and intimidate people from voting,” the pro-Russian separatist told Rossiya-24 TV, adding that Ukrainian attacks had killed one person and injured three.
Pushilin’s comments come a day after voting began in four occupied regions of eastern and southern Ukraine in referendums to join Russia.
Voting in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions will continue until Tuesday.
The international community and Ukraine have condemned the referendums as illegitimate and a sham.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday the referendums were “fake” and that the world would react with “absolute justice”.
“The world will react with absolute justice to the fake referendums, which will be unequivocally condemned, and to the criminal mobilization that the occupiers are currently trying to carry out in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in his evening address referring to the Kremlin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of the Russian military earlier in the week.
“These are not only crimes against international law and Ukrainian law but against specific people and the nation,” the president added.
All territories where the referendums are being held will follow the same procedure.
Residents of Donetsk and Lugansk will be asked whether they “support their republic’s accession to Russia as a federal subject.”
Residents of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson will be asked if they “favor the region’s secession from Ukraine, creation of an independent country and subsequent accession to Russia as a federal subject.”
Russia has backed the referendums as its army controls just over half of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia and almost all of Lugansk and Kherson.
Several analysts say the Kremlin will accelerate the process of recognizing Donbas and the occupied territories of southern Ukraine as part of the Russian Federation as it did in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea.
The United Nations has expressed “deep concern” over the referendums.
“Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and of international law,” UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.
During his address at the UN General Assembly earlier this week, United States President Joe Biden condemned the “sham referenda” and accused Russia of wanting to “erase” Ukraine from the map. EFEmos/mp