MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. Residents of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR), as well as the liberated territories of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, will have the final say in referendums on accession to Russia on Tuesday.
September 27 is the last day of voting and the only one when voting will be held at stationary polling stations. During the previous four days, votes were collected by field election commission.
The issue of holding the referendums immediately was raised last week by the public chambers of the DPR and LPR. Last Tuesday, residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions joined the initiative as local public organizations filed similar requests to their authorities. The decree of Yegeny Balitsky, head of the military-civilian administration of Zaporozhye region, was posted on his Telegram channel. The decree of the head of the Kherson regional military-civilian administration Vladimir Saldo also took effect, the regional administration told TASS.
As of today, the referendums in all of the four regions at the issue were declared valid with the cleared 50-percent benchmark of the voters’ turnout. As of Monday night, voters’ turnout stood at 86.89% in the DPR, 83.61% in the LPR, 63.58% in the Kherson Region and 66.43% in the Zaporozhye Region.
Referendums under fire from Ukraine
Donetsk Mayor Alexey Kulemzin stated on Monday that Ukrainian forces had been terrorizing civilians in Donetsk, with 115 Ukrainian attacks reported in the city in first three days of the referendum. "There were 115 attacks on the city of Donetsk over the past three days," he told Rossiya-24 television channel on Monday. According to him, these acts of terror carried out by Ukrainian militants against citizens have become mundane. Five out of the city’s nine districts are currently coming under fire from the Ukrainian army, the mayor added.
All four regions declared their commitment to maximum transparency and legitimacy, being open to monitoring by international observers.
LPR Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairperson Yelena Kravchenko announced last week that the CEC was receiving and "considering" applications from foreign observers though she did not name their countries. According to the election official, foreign observers and observers representing the Civic Chamber would be present at polling stations as well as outside them on the days of the vote.
Chairperson of the Kherson Region’s election commission Marina Zakharova said that invitations had been sent "to a large number of countries."
The Russian CEC sent its own observers to monitor the referendums. The State Duma (the lower house of parliament) said that members of all parliamentary factions would receive invitations to take part in monitoring the vote.
International observer to the referendum in the Zaporozhye Region from Brazil, ‘Red Journal’ columnist Enrique Dominguez noted the high level of organization of the vote and the absence of pressure on the local residents. According to Dominguez, international monitors visited numerous voting stations over the past four days. "We saw how well the referendum was organized; the people working on this referendum are very well prepared and take this job very seriously," Dominguez told TASS.
Hope for safety and development
Residents of Donbass hope that accession to Russia would bring them security, peace and development, DPR leader Denis Pushilin said earlier in the month. The head of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Leonid Pasechnik said the people of the republic had been looking forward to the referendum since the conflict broke out in the region in 2014. "It has been the dream that we share, it has been our common future. And now it is about to be put into practice," the LPR leader stated.
Meanwhile, Head of the Zaporozhye Region’s Military-Civilian Administration Yevgeny Balitsky described the referendum in his region as a "mere technicality," since its residents already consider themselves a part of Russia.
According to a phone survey conducted by the Institute of Social Marketing (INSOMAR) on September 19 among 4,000 respondents, around 80% of Zaporozhye and Kherson Region residents, 90% of LPR residents and 91% of DPR residents support accession to Russia.
Previously voiced reaction to referendums
On September 21, 2022, in a televised address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would support the decisions made at the referendums by the residents of Donbass and the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Newsweek that the four regions were entitled to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter and Moscow would respect their choice.
Kiev and Western states asserted that they wouldn’t recognize the results of the referendums.