The polls, which began at 07:00 HB, will be held until September 27 in the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (east) and the Russian-occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia (south). In Moscow’s full invasion of Ukraine.
The hastily organized elections, announced earlier in the week, have been strongly condemned by the Ukrainian government and its Western backers, who accuse Moscow of controlling entire swathes of territory, including the Crimean peninsula.(South) in 2014.
If the results of these referendums are beyond doubt, they herald an escalation of the conflict, with Moscow going so far as to threaten nuclear strikes to defend what it considers “its” territory.
“Having this referendum is a historic step… we’re going home!” Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk, said in a video posted to Telegram on Friday morning.
With fighting still intensifying, the separatists’ electoral body in Donetsk said voting would be organized mainly door-to-door over four days for “security reasons” and that polling stations would open “only on the last day”, September 27.
This will open 450 and 461 polling stations in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the east respectively. Zaporizhia will have 394 and Kherson region in the south will have 198.
According to Russian news agencies, several polling stations in Russia have opened for “refugees” who fled the fighting to vote.
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