Conflicts & War

Voting begins in Moscow-held Ukraine regions on joining Russia

Moscow, Sep 23 (EFE).- Voting began in the Russia-controlled parts of eastern and southern Ukraine on Friday for the referendums to join Russia that the international community has condemned as illegitimate.

The voting in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions will continue until Tuesday.

Galina Katiuschenko, the electoral commission head in the Zaporizhzhia region, told the Russian Interfax news agency that all 5,000 members of the poll body had begun their work.

She said during the first four days of the voting, citizens could vote from their homes, in communities at designated places, and in a door-to-door campaign for security reasons.

The regular polling stations will open on the last day of the vote.

Russian news agency TASS reported that people would be using “traditional paper ballots and refrain from digital voting” in the four regions “due to time limits and technical issues.”

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.”

A statement from the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, recognized by Russia as an independent state, said voting began at 8 am across the territory.

On Thursday, the head of the Russian Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said the agency would “render all the required assistance” for everyone to take part in the referendums.

Russia has backed the referendums even as its army controls just over half of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia and almost all of Luhansk 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.

On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep concern” about 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,” he said.

During his address at the United Nations 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. EFE


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