Ukrainians in Kremlin-backed territory vote whether to join Russia in ‘sham referenda’

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A controversial referendum on it Moscow-held territories of Ukraine According to Russian-backed officials, Friday should join Russia.

The referendum asked whether some Ukrainians wanted their regions to become part of Russia. The votes expected to tilt in favor of Russia have already happened. Condemned by Ukrainians and Westerners. alike, who charge that it is an illegal step toward annexation.

The referendums concern four occupied territories and will likely be used by the Kremlin to justify annexation of Ukrainian territories and thereby escalate the Russia-Ukraine war.

Voting is taking place in Luhansk, Kherson and the partially Russian-controlled regions of Zaporizhia and Donetsk.

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People walk along a street with a billboard that reads: “Our choice – Russia”, ahead of a referendum in the Luhansk People’s Republic controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine on September 22, 2022.

In the first few days, ballots will be brought to residents by election officials, who will also set up temporary polling stations. Officials stationed in Russia cited “security reasons” for their voting process.

Residents will be invited to vote at regular polling sites next Tuesday, the last day of the referendum.

If the vote goes in Russia’s favor, it would give the Kremlin an excuse to say that Ukrainian forces are attacking Russia directly, trying to regain control of disputed territories.

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A military vehicle drives along the road with a billboard reading. "Forever With Russia, September 27" Ahead of a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

A military vehicle with a billboard drives down the street ahead of the referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People’s Republic, on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine.
(AP Photo)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky He referred to the “sham referendum” in his overnight address, when he also called Russian citizens “accomplices in all these crimes.”

“You are already involved in all these crimes, killings and torture of Ukrainians,” the Ukrainian president said in Russian. “Because you were silent. Because you are silent. And now it’s time for you to choose.”

“For men in Russia it is a choice to die or live, to become disabled or to keep health,” Zelinsky added. “For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, their sons, their grandchildren forever, or to try to save them from death, from war, from one person.”

Quoted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "Referendum of Syria" Condemned the Russian government in a speech.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky referred to “sham referenda” in a speech condemning the Russian government.
(Alexi Ferman/Getty Images)

As voting began on Friday, Russian social media sites were flooded with emotional scenes of families reportedly saying goodbye to men leaving for the military draft, according to the Associated Press.

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Voting for the referendum will end on September 27.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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