MELITOPOL, July 14. /TASS/. A referendum on the Zaporozhye Region’s accession to Russia will be organized in early autumn this year, Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the region’s military-civilian administration, told journalists on Thursday.
"The referendum will be organized in early autumn," he said. "I have received numerous requests from labor forces, trade union organizations and public activists requesting to determine the status of our region as soon as possible."
"Speaking with them we realize that they want to become a territorial entity within Russia, which will be the Zaporozhye Region," he continued. "Being in charge of the military-civilian administration, I made a decision to organize a referendum in early autumn. All [organizational] mechanisms are currently being finalized."
Balitsky stated earlier that preparations for a referendum about the region's joining Russia could be held within the next few months. He said the referendum was likely to take place in the fall.
At the moment, about 70% of the Zaporozhye Region has been liberated, but the region’s capital, the city of Zaporozhye, remains under Kiev’s control, and Melitopol has temporarily assumed the authority of the region’s capital.
On Monday, Putin signed a decree fast-tracking the procedure for Russian citizenship for all Ukrainians. The previous version of the decree only covered residents of the DPR and the LPR as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions of Ukraine.
Under the simplified procedure, Ukrainians can apply for Russian citizenship without having to meet the requirement of residing in Russia for five years, possessing a source of income and having their knowledge of Russian tested.
A member of the main council of the Zaporozhye Region’s military-civilian administration said on Wednesday that more than 80 social infrastructure facilities in the zone of the Zaporozhye Region controlled by Kiev, including schools and shopping centers, have been turned into military bases and arms depots.
He also stated that all the territories of the Zaporozhye Region, controlled by the Kiev regime, and all bridges were booby-trapped with mines, "including the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station."
Russia’s military operation
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would recognize the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia signed agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders. Russia recognized the Donbass republics in accordance with the DPR and LPR constitutions within the boundaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of the beginning of 2014.
Russian President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had decided to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, noting that the operation was aimed at the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.
Subsequently, the DPR and the LPR launched an operation to liberate their territories under Kiev’s control.