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Putin to sign accession treaties with four territories

The ceremony will be held in The Hall of the Order of St. George of the Grand Kremlin Palace, beginning at 15:00 Moscow time

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Friday, September 30, sign accession treaties with four territories: the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the regions of Zaporozhye and Kherson.

The ceremony will be held in The Hall of the Order of St. George of the Grand Kremlin Palace, beginning at 15:00 Moscow time.

Therefore, the number of Russian administrative regions will grow to 89, while the four territories that had seceded from Ukraine will enter a new historical period as a part of Russia.

Signing ceremony

This is not the first event of this kind held in the Kremlin’s Hall of the Order of St. George. A similar ceremony took place on March 18, 2014, when Crimea reunified with Russia. Recently, a similar choice was made by residents of the Donbass republics and two other regions no longer willing to be a part of Ukraine.

The details of the ceremony were unveiled by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday.

"Tomorrow, at the Grand Kremlin Palace, in St. George's Hall, at 3:00 p.m. the ceremony of signing the agreements for the new territories to join the Russian Federation will take place," Peskov said.

"President Putin will deliver a voluminous speech at this event. This is not the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, it is very important not to confuse [these two speeches]," he continued.

He went on to say that during the Kremlin ceremony, the four new territories will officially become a part of Russia. "All four, all the territories that held referendums and requested the Russian side do so [to join]," the spokesman said.

He added that Putin would meet with the heads of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions in the Kremlin, on the event’s sidelines. "Of course, on the sidelines of this ceremony these meetings will take place," Peskov said. All of them arrived in Moscow on the eve of the ceremony.

The signing will be attended by members of the Russian parliament’s upper and lower chambers and heads of Russian regions.

Voice of the people

On September 23-27, 2022, referendums were held in the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics, as well as in the liberated territories of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, on the issue of joining Russia. For security reasons, in-person voting at the polling stations was held only on the last day, September 27, while on all other days election commissions’ staffers walked about their precincts with portable transparent ballot boxes from house to house or set up temporary outdoor voting outlets in the neighborhoods. Refugees had an opportunity to cast their ballots at polling stations on the territory of Russia.

During the plebiscites, an overwhelming majority of the residents spoke in favor of joining Russia. In all four regions, the voting was declared valid. The turnout was unprecedentedly high standing at 78.86% (571,001 people took part) in the Kherson Region, at 85.4% in the Zaporozhye Region (541,093 people), at 94.15% in the Lugansk People’s Republic (1,662,607 people) and at 97.51% in the Donetsk People’s Republic (2,131,207 people).

An overwhelming majority voted in support of joining Russia: 87.05% in the Kherson Region, 93.11% in the Zaporozhye Region, 99.23% in the Donetsk People’s Repubic (DPR) and 98.42% in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

Prior to the vote, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to support the decision made by the residents of the four territories. In a video address to the nation on September 21, the president recalled that the West "turned Ukrainians into cannon fodder and pushed them to war against this country back in 2014, while using the armed forces against civilians and organizing a genocide, blockade and terror against those who refused to recognize the regime that came to power after a coup d’etat in Ukraine,"

After the incumbent Kiev regime has de-facto ditched a diplomatic solution to the Donbass issue, people living in those areas became "the target of relentless artillery and missile attacks by neo-Nazi militants." The same scenario took place in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. "We cannot and we have no moral right to leave our own people at the mercy of butchers, we cannot fail to respond to their heartfelt desire to decide their own future," Putin said.

Legal basis

In accordance with the Russian legislation, admission of new territories into Russia as constituent entities is possible after signing an international treaty. The mechanism was applied in 2014, when Crimea declared itself an independent state on March 17 and signed a treaty on reunification with Russia on March 18.

The process is streamlined by provisions of the Russian constitution, the Federal constitutional Law of December 17, 2001 ("About procedure for acceptance to the Russian Federation and educations in its list of the new subject of the Russian Federation"), the Federal Law of July 15, 1995 ("On international treaties of the Russian Federation"), as well as by principles and norms of the international law.

The documents outline the following steps that are to be made: a foreign country sends a message to Russia’s president with a request for admission. The president informs the Federation Council, the State Duma (upper and lower chambers of the Russian parliament) and the Russian government about it, and consults with them if necessary. Once an international treaty is signed, the president sends it to the Constitutional Court for evaluation. If approved, the draft treaty is sent to the State Duma, along with a draft federal constitutional law that determines the name of the entity, its status, borders and details of the transitional process. If those documents are adopted, names of the new subjects are included in part 1 of article 65 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The Federation Council said it would consider issues related to admission of new regions during its October 4 session.