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Occupied Ukraine holds Kremlin-staged vote on joining Russia


KYIV: Voting started Friday on whether or not occupied areas of Ukraine ought to turn out to be a part of Russia, in referendums that Kyiv and the West condemned as an illegitimate and rigged try by Moscow to annex areas within the east and south after practically seven months of warfare.
Amid the balloting, United Nations specialists and Ukrainian officers pointed to new proof of warfare crimes in Ukraine. Kharkiv area officers mentioned a mass burial web site within the japanese metropolis of Izium contained a whole lot of our bodies, together with a minimum of 30 displaying indicators of torture.
The Kremlin-orchestrated referendums within the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas requested residents if they need the areas to be a part of Russia. The voting overseen by Moscow-installed authorities, scheduled to run via Tuesday, is sort of sure to go the Kremlin‘s method.
Russian-installed authorities within the Kherson area mentioned residents of a small Moscow-controlled space of the neighboring Mykolaiv area additionally will be capable of vote, and that small space was “incorporated” into the Kherson area till all of Mykolaiv is taken over by Russian forces
Ukraine and the West have denounced the vote as a sham and an illegitimate step towards annexation of a giant slice of the nation from the Russian border to the Crimean Peninsula. An identical referendum happened in Crimea in 2014 earlier than Moscow annexed it, a transfer that many of the world thought-about unlawful.
Election officers deliberate to convey ballots to properties and arrange makeshift polling stations close to residential buildings within the first 4 days of voting, in line with Russian-installed officers within the occupied areas, who cited security causes. Russian state TV on Friday morning confirmed groups of election officers going to residential neighborhood, with one such group accompanied by a masked police officer carrying an assault rifle.
Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol within the Zaporizhzhia area, informed The Associated Press that Russians and residents of Crimea have been introduced into his metropolis to induce individuals to vote.
“The Russians see an overwhelming reluctance and fear to attend the referendum and are forced to bring people … to create an image and an illusion of the vote,” he mentioned. “Groups of collaborators and Russians along with armed soldiers are doing a door-to-door poll, but few people open the doors to them.”
Polls additionally opened in Russia, the place refugees and different residents from these areas may vote.
Denis Pushilin, the separatist chief of the Moscow-backed authorities within the Donetsk area, known as the referendum “a historical milestone.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s decrease home of parliament, the State Duma, addressed the areas in a web based assertion, saying: “If you decide to become part of the Russian Federation, we will support you.”
Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai accused Russian officers of taking down the names of people that voted in opposition to it. In on-line posts, Haidai additionally alleged that Russian officers threatened to kick down the doorways of anybody who didn’t need to vote and shared pictures of what gave the impression to be a pair of abandoned polling stations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy solely briefly talked about the “sham” referendums in an address in which he switched from speaking Ukrainian to Russian to directly tell Russian citizens they were being “thrown to their deaths.”
“You are already accomplices in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians,” he said. “Because you were silent. Because you are silent. And now it’s time for you to choose. For men in Russia, this is a choice to die or live, to become a cripple or to preserve health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person.”
The voting takes place against the backdrop of incessant fighting in Ukraine, with Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanging fire as both sides refuse to concede ground.
Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Synyehubov,and the region’s police chief, Volodymyr Tymoshko, said at least 30 of the 436 bodies exhumed so far in Izium bore signs of torture. Among them were the bodies of 21 Ukrainian soldiers, some of which were found with their hands bound behind their backs, they said.
Russian forces occupied Izium for six months before being pushed out of the area by a Ukrainian counteroffensive earlier this month. The forest burial site was discovered after residents said they were forced to dig graves there.
The exhumations, which began a week ago, are nearing an end, as investigators work on identifying victims and the cause of death. A mobile DNA lab was parked at the edge of the burial site.
“Each body has its own story,” Synyehubov said.
Experts commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council also presented evidence Friday of potential war crimes, including beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity in Russian detention facilities, and expressed grave concerns about killings the team was working to document in Kharkiv and the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy.
As the referendums began, more men in Russia prepared to join the fight in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ordered a partial mobilization of reservists on Wednesday that the defense minister said could add about 300,000 troops.
In cities across the vast country, men hugged their weeping family members before departing as part of the call-up, which has raised fears that a wider draft might follow. Russian antiwar activists planned to stage protests against the mobilization on Saturday.
Ukraine’s presidential office said at least 10 civilians were killed and 39 others were wounded by Russian shelling in nine Ukrainian regions in the last 24 hours.
It said that fighting continued in the southern Kherson during the vote, while Ukrainian forces troops meted out 280 attacks on Russian command posts, munitions depots and weapons in the region.
Heavy fighting also continued in the Donetsk region, where Russian attacks targeted Toretsk, Sloviansk and several smaller towns. Russian shelling in Nikopol and Marhanets on the western bank of the Dnieper River killed two people and wounded nine in Marhanets.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said military casualties could be higher than the 9,000 soldiers reported killed in action because authorities still don’t know how many died in the three-month siege of Mariupol, which fell to the Russians in May.
Malyar nonetheless said Ukraine’s losses were much smaller than those of Russia. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu beforehand reported 5,937 Russian fighters have died.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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