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Donbass, Kherson, Zaporozhye to hold referendum on accession to Russia

The vote in all four regions will take place on September 23-27

TASS, September 20. Leadership of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as liberated Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions made a decision Tuesday to hold referendums on accession to the Russian Federation in response to address of the civil movements. The vote in all four regions will take place on September 23-27.

Donbass is interested in the legitimacy of the accession referendum procedure, and in their approval by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS, LPR envoy to Russia Rodion Miroshnik said Tuesday. Representatives of the media, including foreign ones, will be invited to the referendum, and the regions also requested organizational aid from Russia and other states.

According to a phone poll, carried out by the National Institute for Opinion Surveys and Marketing (INSOMAR) on September 19 among 4,000 respondents, LPR’s accession is supported by 83% of residents, DPR’s accession is backed by 80%, while 72% and 65% of respondents favor accession in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, correspondingly.

Current events in Donbass

On Monday, LPR and DPR Civic Chambers addressed heads of the republics with a call to immediately hold referendums on accession to Russia. On Tuesday, parliaments of the republics adopted laws on referendums. All citizens aged above 18 are eligible to vote regardless of their location. Residents of DPR territories under Kiev’s control will be able to vote, if they evacuated to Russia or to the liberated territories of the republic.

The LPR Central Election Commission will announce the outcome within five days. Heads of the republic, Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin reportedly already signed laws on the referendums.

The LPR and DPR coordinate and synchronize their preparation processes, which involve experts on holding the vote in order to ensure transparency. LPR authorities plan to invite international observers to the referendum. DPR Civic Chamber stated that everything is ready for the vote, including Central Election Commissions of both republics.

The vote will take place in both republics on September 23-27. In the DPR, the vote will be mixed: both in person and online. The authorities see no difficulties to hold the vote in the DPR military units.

In case of the positive outcome, DPR head Denis Pushilin will ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to decide on admission of the republic into the federation.

Kherson Region

Kherson Region military-civilian administration head Vladimir Saldo also announced a decision to hold an accession referendum on September 23-27. The initiative was put forward unanimously by the regional Public Council.

Regional authorities expect the turnout of up to 80%, military-civilian administration head Kirill Stremousov said. Refugees from the “buffer areas” — territories temporarily occupied by Ukrainian forces — will also be eligible for vote. The opponents of the integration with Russia will not be persecuted, the authorities said.

The region’s voters will be able to use all available technologies to vote, including online voting. However, Stremousov stated that the security of the referendum will be ensured.

Stremousov said that Kherson has already launched consultations with Russia about the vote. He expressed his hope that Russia will admit the region after the referendum. Military-civilian administration head Saldo stated that he would contact the Russian President with a request to approve the outcome after the vote.

Stremousov noted that Russian forces control 95% of the region and expressed his hope that the outcome will make the region’s life safer. There will be no compulsory mobilization after the referendum.

Zaporozhye Region

The congress of Zaporozhye Region residents also gathered in Melitopol Tuesday to discuss a referendum on accession to Russia. The local movement, “We are Together with Russia” addressed the military-civilian administration head, Yevgeny Balitsky, requesting to hold an accession referendum. Balitsky already signed an order to hold a referendum between September 23 and 27. According to Balitsky, the region is technically ready for a referendum, and its borders are well protected.

Leader of the “We are Together with Russia” movement is certain that accession to Russia will guarantee freedom, life, peace, mutual understanding and welfare for the people of the region. According to Rogov, everything is ready for the referendum. The incomplete control of Russian forces over the Zaporozhye Region will not jeopardize the referendum’s legitimacy, he believes, although it would be impossible to hold the referendum in the city of Zaporozhye, which is currently under Ukraine’s control.

Russia’s reaction

Commenting on the referendums, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted Russia’s position that it is the people of corresponding territories that must define their future. According to the Foreign Minister, the current situation confirms that the people of Donbass want to be the masters of their fate.

The lower chamber of the Russian parliament will support the people of Donbass, should they decide to join Russia, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said. Russian Federation Council (upper chamber) First Deputy Speaker Andrey Turchak believes that the referendum will take place and legally cement that “Donbass and the liberated territories are Russia now.”

Head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky stated that the DPR and LPR must join Russia, and Moscow must take responsibility for security of these regions.

Russia’s Civic Chamber is ready to share experience on online vote with the Donbass republics. Crimea is ready to open voting stations for refugees from Donbass and the Kherson Region. The Republic of Crimea is also ready to help these territories ensure security during the vote. The Rostov Region also stated its readiness to organize voting stations for refugees from LPR and DPR, if necessary.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev stated that it is “necessary to hold” the referendums in Donbass, adding that they have huge importance for restoration of historic justice. According to Medvedev, after the admission of LPR and DPR to Russia, the global geopolitical transformation will become irreversible.