World News

Ukraine says residents forced to vote to annex Russia, West accuses ‘fake’ – Times of India


Kyiv: Russia launched a referendum on Friday aimed at annexing four regions of occupied Ukraine, with residents threatened with punishment if they do not vote, in what Kyiv called a forced guise. Months ago heightened the danger of war.
The vote on whether to make the region part of Russia began earlier this month after Ukraine recaptured much of its northeastern territory in a retaliation to an invasion that began on February 1. twenty four.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin also releasing a military draft this week to mobilize 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine, the Kremlin appears poised to regain the upper hand in the bitter conflict.
And by incorporating these four regions into Russia, Moscow can portray an attack to retake them as an attack on Russia itself and warn its supporters in Kyiv and the West.
Putin on Wednesday said Russia would “use every means at our disposal” to defend itself, alluding to nuclear weapons.
Wars have already killed tens of thousands of people, forced millions from their homes, and devastated the global economy.
Authorities set up by the Russian government in four regions in eastern and southeastern Ukraine have been debating a referendum for months, but Kyiv’s recent battlefield victory has made it imperative to reschedule the referendum.
Voting in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, which occupies about 15% of Ukraine’s territory, will take place from Friday to Tuesday. Polling stations were also set up in Moscow for residents of these regions who now live in Russia.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, said in the town of Starobirsk that Russian authorities had banned leaving the town until Tuesday and armed men had been sent to search homes and force people to vote. rice field.
“Today, the best thing for the people of Kherson is not to open the door,” Yuri Sobolevsky, deputy chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, who has been evacuated from Ukraine, told the messaging app Telegram.
The referendum has been condemned by Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations as a precursor to illegal annexation. There were no independent observers, and much of the pre-war population fled.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the elections, said there would be no legal implications as the results did not comply with Ukrainian law or international standards and the region was not safe.
Forced Reporting, Panic
Gaidai said in the Russian-controlled town of Bilovodsk a company director told employees that voting was mandatory and that anyone who refused to participate would be fired and their name given to the security service. rice field.
Kherson’s Sobolevsky said on the messaging app Telegram: “Russia is not ready to implement this so-called referendum so quickly, there is no support, there are not enough people and they are panicking.” said.
TUFS criticized the referendum as an “election without an election.” He said people were forced to fill out “pieces of paper” without privacy in their kitchens or residential yards, and with towns on lockdown, people couldn’t leave to avoid voting.
Reuters could not immediately confirm reports of coercion.
Moscow argues that the referendum provides an opportunity for people in the region to express their opinions.
“Voting has started in the referendum on the Zaporizhia region becoming part of Russia as a constituent entity of the Russian Federation! We are going home!” Mr.
The government said two vehicles with “Ukrainian saboteurs” had entered the area and were being “dealed with,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Reuters could not confirm the reports.
Ukraine says it will never accept Russia’s control of its territory.
Oleksandr Yaroshenko, 65, from Kyiv, told Reuters: “(The referendum) will not give Moscow the upper hand. Threatening us and the West with nuclear weapons is nonsense, bluff and political manipulation. ‘ said.
Russia previously used a referendum as a pretext for Ukraine’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, which the international community has rejected.
justify self-defense
Alluding to the Kremlin’s calculations in holding the referendum, former President Dmitry Medvedev (now deputy chairman of the National Security Council) warned that Moscow would now consider attacks on four territories as attacks on Russia itself. did.
For “self-defense,” he said, any weapons in Moscow’s arsenal, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used.
Putin claims Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine, eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russia from NATO.
Kyiv and the West say the war is a unilateral imperialist attempt to reconquer a country that shook off Russian rule with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
War crimes, including executions, rape, torture and child imprisonment, have been committed in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, Eric Moses, head of a UN-mandated commission of inquiry, said Friday during a visit to 27 territories. said, citing interviews with more than 150 victims. and witnesses.
Moses said commission investigators were planning to investigate mass graves near Igeum in eastern Ukraine, where hundreds of bodies were found earlier this month after Kyiv counterattacks drove out Russian occupiers. was discovered.
Russia denies having deliberately attacked civilians in the conflict, saying such accusations are a smear campaign.





Source link

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button