By Tony O’Reilly-
Russia has orchestrated a dodgy referendum voting in Ukraine, reqiring teens as young as 13 to participate in its sham process.
Western and Ukrainian officials have condemned the move as a sham used by the Kremlin to legitimize Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory, as it did in Crimea in 2014.
The Russian state news agency Tass reported that for “safety reasons,” election officials would take ballots to people’s homes. Voting at actual polling stations would only take place on the last day. It said polling stations have also been set up inside Russia for Ukrainian residents who had evacuated there.
The questions on the ballots is poised to ask voters whether their regions should join Russia, the news agency said, adding there was no mention of an option to stay as part of Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasised that Moscow would consider any Ukrainian attempts to return the regions that are holding the referendums as an attack on Russia, if they vote to join the country.
The balloting will conclude on Tuesday, but the outcome is expected to favour Russia- a country with no integrity or principles. The U.S. and its allies expect Russia to manipulate the results in their favour.
The referendums in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions are perceived to be a guise for Moscow’s plans to annex the regions. The voting overseen by authorities installed by Russia.
World leaders on Friday said the referendum goes against the United Nations charter and violates international law. The Group of Seven (G7) nations – representing the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom – said in a statement that the “sham referenda” creates a “a phony pretext for changing the status of Ukrainian sovereign territory.”
The statement says the G7 would not recognize the referendum, nor any attempts to annex Ukrainian land seized by Russian troops. The countries, which represent the largest industrialized democracies in the world, also called on other countries to reject the vote and threatened to “impose further economic costs” on the Kremlin.
“These sham referenda initiated today by Russia and its proxies have no legal effect or legitimacy,” the statement reads. “We will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
In southern Kherson, Russian guardsmen stood with a ballot box in the middle of the city to collect people’s votes. The door-to-door voting is for “security”, Russian state media said.
“In-person voting will take place exclusively on 27 September,” Tass reported. “On the other days, voting will be organised in communities and in a door-to-door manner.”
The self-styled referendums, taking place across five days, will allow Russia to illegally claim four occupied or partially occupied regions of Ukraine as their own.
The “annexation” would not be recognised internationally but could lead to Russia claiming that its territory is under attack from Western weapons supplied to Ukraine, which could escalate the war further.
President Joe Biden similarly released a statement saying the U.S. would “never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than part of Ukraine.”
“Russia’s referenda are a sham – a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter,” Biden said. “We will work with our allies and partners to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia.”
Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai accused officials of taking down the names of people who voted against joining Russia. In online posts, Haidai also alleged that Russian officials threatened to kick down the doors of anyone who didn’t want to vote and posted photos of what appeared to be two deserted polling stations.
Female voter in Russia’s dodgy referendum Image: AP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Russians to protest against the war.
Protesting Russians Arrested
Over 1,300 people across Russia were arrested this week for demonstrating against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement Wednesday of “partial” military mobilization to send more troops into the war in Ukraine, which he calls a “special military operation.”
British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said the UK had evidence that Russian officials had already set targets for invented voter turnouts and approval rates for these sham referenda.
Mr Cleverly said Russia planned to formalise the annexation of the four regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – by the end of the month.
Putin recently threatened an escalation of nuclear weapons against the West for its involvement in supplying Ukraine with weapons, and there are fears that Liz Truss’s recent vow to continue to supply weapons could indeed provoke a serious and unforeseen escalation of the war.
Ms Truss was described by Mps as lacking empathy and not being very bright after she was voted prime minister.
The prime minister studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Merton College, Oxford, and was president of the Oxford University Democrats.
On paper, she is bright, though the question of whether everyone wh attends a top university is bright is one currently being evaluated by some researchers. It would require discussions with a range of university lecturers and philosophers
The general consensus at the moment is that nobody who becomes prime minister is dull, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bright.
A fact most agree on is that Vladmir Putin’s regime is run by dictatorship, characterised by a consistent breach of Human Right Laws and international treaties.
A few days ago, Russia announced plans to call up about 300,000 reservists – people who have had military training and have specialist skills needed in the Ukraine conflict. They will include many reserve officers, including some over 60, pulled in from retirement.
It is part of his partial mobilisation to reinforce his troops in Ukraine after major combat setbacks this month.
Image of Russian soldier:Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images