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Occupied Ukraine holds Kremlin-staged vote on Russia’s accession – Times of India

Kyiv: Voting started on Friday Ukraine must be part of RussiaKyiv and the West in a referendum denounced Moscow as an illegal and dishonest attempt to annex the eastern and southern territories after nearly seven months of war.
During the vote, UN experts and Ukrainian officials pointed to new evidence of war crimes in Ukraine. Officials in the Kharkiv region said a mass grave in the eastern city of Izium contained hundreds of bodies, at least 30 of which showed signs of torture.
Referendum orchestrated by Luhansk, Kherson and the partly Russian-controlled Kremlin Zaporizhia And the Donetsk region asked its residents if they wanted the region to be part of Russia.The vote, which will be overseen by authorities in Moscow and scheduled to run until Tuesday, will almost certainly take place. KremlinThat’s right.
The Russian-installed authorities in the Kherson region have said that residents of a small Moscow-controlled area of ​​the neighboring Mykolaiv region will also be able to vote, and that small region will be “incorporated” into the Kherson region until the entire Mykolaiv region is occupied. rice the Russian military
Ukraine and the West denounced the vote as a sham and an unfair move to annex much of the country from the Russian border to Crimea. A similar referendum was held in Crimea in 2014, before Moscow annexed Crimea.
Officials stationed in Russian-occupied areas said election officials, citing security reasons, brought ballots to each home during the first four days of voting and stash them near residential buildings. planned to set up polling stations. On Friday morning, Russian state television showed a team of election officials accompanied by masked police officers with assault rifles going to a residential area.
Ivan Fyodorov, the mayor of Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine, told The Associated Press that Russians and Crimean residents were brought to his city to encourage the vote.
“Russians see overwhelming reluctance and fear to participate in the referendum, and are forced to bring people in to create the image and illusion of voting,” he said. . “Collaborators and groups of Russians are going door-to-door with armed soldiers, but few open the doors.”
Voting has also started in Russia, allowing refugees and other residents of these regions to vote.
Denis Pushirin, the separatist leader of the authorities in the Moscow-backed Donetsk region, called the referendum a “historic milestone.”
“If you decide to become part of the Russian Federation, we will support you,” Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, addressed the region in an online statement.
The Luhansk government Serhii Haidai accused the Russian authorities of deleting the names of those who voted against them. Haidai also claimed in online posts that Russian authorities threatened to kick down the door of those who did not want to vote and shared two photos of him in what appeared to be empty polling stations.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky In his speech, he only briefly mentioned the “fake” referendum, switching from Ukrainian to Russian to tell Russian citizens directly: “They are being driven to death.”
“You are already an accomplice to all these crimes, murders and tortures against Ukrainians.” For men in Russia, this is a choice: live or die, be crippled or stay healthy.Russian women’s choice is to lose their husbands, sons and grandchildren forever, or death, war, alone. or try to protect them from the humans of
The vote comes against the backdrop of constant fighting in Ukraine, with Russian and Ukrainian forces firing back as both sides refuse to concede.
Kharkiv Regional Government Oleh Synyehubov, and Regional Police Chief, Volodymyr Tymoshikosaid at least 30 of the 436 bodies unearthed so far in Idium bore signs of torture. Among them were the bodies of 21 Ukrainian soldiers, some with their hands tied behind their backs.
Russian forces occupied Izium for six months before being forced from the area by Ukrainian counterattacks earlier this month. The forest burial ground was discovered after residents said they were forced to dig graves there.
An excavation that began a week ago is coming to a close as investigators work to determine the victims and cause of death. A mobile DNA lab was parked at the end of the burial ground.
“Each body has its own story,” Synyehubov said.
Experts commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday presented evidence of potential war crimes such as beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity in Russian detention facilities, after teams documented documents in the Kharkov and Kyiv regions. Chernihikh and Smee expressed serious concern about the killings they were working on to make the case.
As the referendum began, many Russian men prepared to join the fight in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists on Wednesday, with the defense minister saying about 300,000 troops could be added.
Cities across the sprawling country have seen men embracing crying family members before leaving as part of a rally, raising fears that more widespread conscription could follow.Russian anti-war activists We were planning to hold a protest against the mobilization on Saturday.
The Ukrainian president’s office said at least 10 civilians were killed and 39 injured in Russian artillery shelling in nine regions of Ukraine over the past 24 hours.
Fighting continued in the south of Kherson during the election period, with Ukrainian forces carrying out 280 attacks against Russian command posts, ammunition depots and weapons in the area.
Heavy fighting also continued in the Donetsk region, where Russian attacks targeted Tretsk, Sloviansk, and several small towns. 9 people were injured in
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maryal said military casualties were killed in action, as authorities still do not know how many died in the three-month siege of Mariupol, which fell to Russian forces in May. He said it could be higher than the reported 9,000 soldiers.
Nevertheless, Malyar said Ukraine’s losses were much smaller than those of Russia.Minister of Defense of Russia Sergei Shoigu Previously, 5,937 Russian combatants were reported dead.

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