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Ukraine: occupied territory begins preparations for a vote on its association with Russia

Ukraine: occupied territory begins preparations for a vote on its association with Russia

Moscow-designated authorities in the Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia, partly occupied by the Russian army, announced on Monday that they are officially embarking on preparations for the referendum on the annexation of this region to Russia.

“I signed an order for the Central Election Commission to start work on organizing a referendum on the annexation of the Zaporizhia region to Russia,” said Yevgeny Palitsky, head of the civil and military administration created in the territory of this south. The area controlled by the Russians.

He made the remarks at a forum of the local pro-Russian movement “We are with Russia” in Melitopol, according to a video posted on Balitski’s official Telegram account.

The announcement was warmly welcomed by more than 700 participants in the forum.

In mid-July, Mr. Palitsky announced that he wanted to organize such a referendum at the beginning of the fall.

The launch of official preparations for the referendum comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that peace talks with Russia would be impossible if such referendums were held in Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded on Monday, “It is not the people who organize the referendum, but the residents of these regions who have such projects.”

“He (Zelensky, editor’s note) has to ask his countrymen why so many of them don’t want to live in his country,” he said.

Since the beginning of the offensive on Ukraine on February 24, the Russian army has occupied a significant part of two southern regions, Kherson and Zaporizhia.

Since then, the Moscow-controlled authorities say they want to regulate their association with Russia, even if the Kremlin has not officially demonstrated this goal in public.

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The occupation authorities are also leading a policy of extensive Russification, the introduction of the ruble, control over social welfare systems, businesses and schools, pushing the population to take Russian passports.