According to images in Russian media, pro-Russian administration officials go door to door with portable ballot boxes to get people to vote, AFP reports. At the same time, Russian television showed footage of people throwing their votes into mobile urns in various halls or courtyards.
An adviser to Ukrainian Mariupol mayor Petro Andryushchenko accused pro-Russian forces of using coercive tactics, according to CNN. “The main means of coercion during voting is door-to-door agitation,” Andryushchenko wrote in a telegram on the social network.
“The commission consists of two people with a ballot box and ballot papers and two armed men,” he said Andryushchenko. “They are knocking on apartment/house doors, forcing neighbors to get people to come to the commission. Coercion, coercion and more coercion. In fact, they are offering to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ directly at the barrel of a gun,” says the mayor’s adviser, who says there are polling stations in shops or cafes, but they are empty.
“Today (on Friday – editor’s note) it would be best for the people of Kherson not to open the doors,” Yuriy Sobolevskyi, Ukrainian deputy chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, said on the Telegram platform.
People are being forced to fill out “pieces of paper” without privacy in the kitchens and backyards of residential houses, while cities are closed to prevent them from leaving and avoiding voting, according to the head of Ukraine’s Luhansk region administration, Serhii Hajday, Reuters reported.
‘Choose to become part of the Russian Federation.’ A pseudo-referendum began in Ukraine
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In the city of Starobilsk, pro-Russian authorities barred residents from leaving the city until Tuesday and sent armed groups to search homes and force people to participate in the referendum, Hajdaj said.
Voting is taking place in the self-proclaimed pro-Russian Luhansk People’s Republic, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Russian-occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, into which the Russian occupying forces have “incorporated” parts of other regions that they still hold.
Residents of the mentioned parts of Ukraine who are now in Russia can also come to cast their vote, however, according to Russian internet sources, there is confusion about where they can come to cast their vote. The plebiscite is scheduled to last five days. For the first four days, members of the election commissions will visit the homes of local residents, the independent server Meduza and the Russian-language website of the BBC reported.
According to them, the polling stations will also be open on the last day. The occupation authorities explain the decision as a concern for the safety of residents, many of whom will have to vote in settlements located near the front line.
Referendum with a single question
In the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, the ballots, according to the media, have only one question – whether to join the Russian Federation, which can be answered yes or no.
In the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, answers to three questions are requested – whether the voter is for secession from Ukraine, for the creation of an independent state and for joining the Russian Federation.
The Russian news agency TASS reported that less than a thousand observers are participating in the referendum in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
She later announced that there are also about 130 observers from abroad in the Donetsk People’s Republic, namely from Venezuela, Italy, Romania, Togo and the Republic of South Africa. “Their number is constantly growing,” the agency quoted the Central Election Commission as saying.
At the same time, she wrote that observers are also in other occupied regions. In the case of the Luhansk People’s Republic, she cites a man named Jaromír Vašek, who she says is an observer from the Czech Republic.
He claimed, according to TASS, that he had not noticed any voting violations in Luhansk and “everyone is ready to vote for joining Russia.”
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which routinely monitors the election, said the results would not be legally valid because they were in violation of Ukrainian law and international law, were being held in unsafe areas and did not participate their independent observers.
Once again about the crucial. Today, there is no legal action called a “referendum” in the occupied territories. There is only –
1. Propaganda show for z-conscription.
2. The territory of Ukraine that needs an immediate release.
09:03 – 23 September 2022
Kyiv and its Western allies have already called the referendums a fraud. Their representatives said that they do not recognize the results, they consider them only a step by Moscow towards the illegal annexation of another Ukrainian territory. Russia says the referendums are an opportunity for the region’s residents to have their say.
The official results are widely expected to support the accession to Russia. According to CNN, Hajdaj said on Friday that Russia will calculate a result that will be favorable for it. “The opinion of the population has no meaning,” he said.
Reinforcements from the Crimea
In the meantime, the Ukrainian agency Unian wrote that pro-Russian authorities brought a crowd from the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, to the occupied Melitopol in the Zaporozhye region to film propaganda clips and the population’s alleged support for the referendum on joining Russia.
She referred to the exiled mayor of the city, Ivan Fedorov, according to whom the occupiers filmed a report a few days ago in which people in the streets expressed support for Russia – but they spoke with an accent and were said not to be from Melitopol.
In addition, according to Fedorov, there are first reports that the residents of Melitopol do not open the doors of the officials visiting the apartments and do not respond to their calls. “We can confirm that this referendum is a fraud,” said Fedorov.
Putin has been playing tricks since the beginning, the resistance of the Russians will now grow stronger. Fathers will die from families, says the commentator
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The Kremlin has carried out a number of actions in the Ukrainian territories under its control that raise deep skepticism about the possible legitimacy of the vote, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) wrote on its website.
Moscow has been issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic for years. Since the beginning of the invasion, according to Western estimates, the Kremlin has deported about 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens to Russia and at the same time transported buses of Russian citizens to Ukrainian territory, the station writes.
Moscow has also captured the personal and biometric data of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in so-called “filter camps” it set up after the invasion, which experts say opens the door for ballot manipulation.
Russia has little history of free and fair elections, on the contrary, ballots are routinely falsified and voters are intimidated, RFE/RL noted.
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