The Ukrainian Kherson Region is almost entirely occupied by the Russian invaders. The occupiers plan to organize an illegal referendum, to legitimize their occupation by establishing the “Kherson People’s Republic”.
Initially the referendum was supposed to be organized on May 1, but it was moved forward to take place on April 27. Furthermore, between May 2 and May 10 the occupying forces will conduct a census. Local inhabitants have been reportedly prohibited from moving between settlements.
Russian occupation forces in the Kherson Region have also announced the mobilization of men to serve in the military. International law prohibits the conscription of the inhabitants of occupied territories by the occupying power. Creating a new puppet “people’s republic”, akin to those established in 2014 in Luhansk and Donetsk, would give the mobilization a veneer of legitimacy. Russia has already mobilized men of military age in the separatist republics.
“This hasty attempt to sanction the occupation authorities shows that the Russian invaders, as always, ignore all laws and norms. Setting the date for the so-called referendum on a business day, in the middle of the week [Wednesday], proves that the enemy is not interested in the will of the local inhabitants. The scenario of this undertaking has already been developed, and the result is known,” announced the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Operational Command “South” in a Facebook post.
Earlier in April, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced that Russians are printing propaganda material to be used during the illegitimate referendum. On March 27, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleh Nikolenko, said that any such attempts will be illegal, and their official outcomes null and void. “All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity. Instead, Russia will facе an even stronger response from the international community, further deepening its global isolation.”
The Ukrainian officials have no doubt that any Russian-organized referenda, regardless of their dubious legality, are going to be fraudulent. Ukrainian intelligence has information that local residents are also in no doubt that the polling stations are being set up purely for show, for the benefit of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. Russians have access to the personal data of some of the Kherson Region’s residents, which they collected while handing out humanitarian aid.
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