Kherson Referendum On Joining Russia Postponed, Official Says
By Current Time September 05, 2022
A representative of the Moscow-installed military administration in the occupied parts of Ukraine's Kherson region says a referendum on joining Russia has been postponed as Ukrainian armed forces continue military operations aimed at regaining control over the area.
"We have prepared for the voting, and we wanted to hold the referendum in the nearest future, but due to the developments happening at the moment, I think we will pause [with the referendum]," the Russian-appointed deputy governor of Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, told the TASS news agency on September 5.
Kherson, an important port city on the Black Sea, has been fully under Russian control since early March, just weeks after Moscow launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In late August, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the south, and particularly in the Kherson region. Kyiv claims to have taken back some territory and heavy fighting continues.
Stremousov, who said earlier in June that Kherson was now "a full-fledged" part of Russia and a referendum on joining Russia would be held in early September, said recent statements by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk will not disrupt any possible referendum.
Vereshchuk said Kherson residents who take part in illegal referendums organized by Russian-imposed officials may face up to 12 years in prison and the confiscation of all their property.
In early August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said if Moscow held referendums on joining Russia in occupied areas of his country, there could be no peace talks with Ukraine or its international allies.
Russian troops and Moscow-backed separatists also now hold large swathes of territory in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region and in southeastern regions of Zaporizhzhya. Russian-installed officials in those areas have raised the possibility of holding referendums on joining Russia.
Ukraine has seen such moves by Russia before.
In 2014, Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula following a disputed referendum that was widely believed to be falsified, with results showing nearly 97 percent of voters supported joining Russia.
In eastern Ukraine, the separatists seized chunks of territory in 2014, held independence referendums, and proclaimed "people's republics" in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Moscow recognized the "republics" on the eve of its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
With reporting by TASS
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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