Voting begins in the Russian-controlled region of Ukraine on a referendum to become part of Russia

Kiev, Ukraine – Voting began on Friday in the Moscow-held region of Ukraine in a referendum to become part of Russia, Russian-backed officials said.

Kremlin-orchestrated referendum, which has widely criticized by Ukraine and the West as shams without legal force, it is seen as a step towards the annexation of the territory by Russia.

Elections were held in Luhansk, Kherson and the Russian-controlled regions of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk.

Swara, who asked citizens if they want their region to be part of Russia, will definitely move to Moscow. That would give the Kremlin a pretext for their claim efforts of Ukrainian forces to regain control attack on Russia itself, dramatically escalating seven months of war.

The referendum followed Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered partial mobilization, which could add about 300,000 Russian troops to the war. Voting will continue for five days until Tuesday.

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As voting took place in the occupied territories, Russian social media sites were filled with dramatic scenes of families crying goodbye to men leaving military mobilization centers. In cities across the country, men hug grieving family members before leaving as part of the plan.

Russian anti-war activists, meanwhile, are planning more protests against the mobilization. The widespread anti-war demonstrations that followed the announcement of the partial call-up have resulted in several arrests. Flights from Russia are said to be filling up and the line of traffic out at the border with Finland is miles at one point. Traffic was still heavy on Friday morning, Reuters news agency reported.

Russia Ukraine Referendum War Explainer
Military vehicles drive down a street with billboards reading: “With Russia forever, September 27,” ahead of a referendum in the Luhansk People’s Republic, controlled by Russia-backed separatists, in eastern Ukraine.


Election officials will bring ballots to homes and set up emergency polling stations near residential buildings during the first four days of the referendum, according to officials stationed in Russia in the occupied territories, citing security reasons. Tuesday is the only day when voters will be invited to the regular polls.

Polls are also open in Russia, where refugees from the occupied territories can vote.

Denis Pushilin, the separatist leader of the Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region, called Friday’s referendum a “historical milestone.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower parliament of Russia, the State Duma, in the occupied territories, in an online statement, said: “If you want to be part of the Russian Federation – we will support you.”

Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper parliament, said residents of the occupied territories were voting “life or death” in the referendum.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy only briefly mentioned the “fake referendum” in his nightly speech where he switched from speaking in Ukrainian to Russian to directly telling Russians they were “thrown to death.”

“You have become accomplices in all these crimes, murders and torture from Ukraine,” he said. “Because you are silent. Because you are silent. And now it’s time for you to choose. For a man in Russia, it’s a choice to die or live, to be paralyzed or to keep your health. For a woman in Russia, the choice is to lose your husband, your children, your grandchildren forever- forever, or still trying to protect it from death, from war, from one person.”

The vote comes against a backdrop of ongoing fighting in Ukraine, with Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging fire as both sides refuse to concede.

On Friday morning, pro-Russian officials in the Zaporizhzhia region reported loud explosions in the center of Melitopol, a city captured by Moscow early in the war. Vladimir Rogov officially did not give any information about what caused the explosion and whether there was any damage or casualties.

Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region have also accused Ukrainian forces of attacking the city of Donetsk, the region’s capital, and the nearby town of Yasynuvata.

Ukrainian officials, in turn, reported a new round of Russian shelling in various parts of the country. Vitaliy Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine bordering Kherson region, said the explosion occurred in the city of Mykolaiv on Friday.

Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, said Russia launched a shelling attack on Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, on Friday morning.

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