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Controversial referendums on whether Moscow-held areas of Ukraine ought to join Russia started on Friday, in accordance to Russian-backed officers.
The referendums ask if sure Ukrainians need their areas to be a part of Russia. The votes, that are anticipated to lean in favor of Russia, have been denounced by Ukrainians and Westerners alike, who accuse it of being an unlawful step in the direction of annexation.
The referendums concern 4 occupied territories and can seemingly be utilized by the Kremlin to justify annexing the Ukrainian territories and thus escalate the Russo-Ukrainian War.
The votes are being held in the Luhansk, Kherson and partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas.
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In the primary few days, residents may have ballots introduced to them by election officers, who may also arrange makeshift polling stations. The Russian-installed officers cited “safety reasons” for his or her voting processes.
Residents will probably be invited to vote at common ballot websites subsequent Tuesday, which is the final day of the referendums.
If the votes go in Russia’s favor, it could present the Kremlin pretext to say Ukrainian forces are attacking Russia instantly by trying to regain management of the disputed areas.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referenced “sham referenda” in one among his nightly addresses, when he additionally referred to as Russian residents “accomplices in all these crimes”.
“You are already accomplices in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians,” the Ukrainian president stated in Russian. “Because you were silent. Because you are silent. And now it’s time for you to choose.”
“For men in Russia, this is a choice to die or live, to become a cripple or to preserve health,” Zelenskyy added. “For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person.”
As voting started on Friday, Russian social media websites have been reportedly flooded with emotional scenes of households bidding farewell to males departing for the army draft, in accordance to the Associated Press.
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The referendum votes will conclude on Sept. 27.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.