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Zelenskiy Confirms Recapture Of Towns In Northeast As Referendum Rescheduled In Occupied Southern Regions

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service September 07, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Ukrainian troops have recaptured several settlements in the Kharkiv region in the country's northeast.

"This week we have good news from Kharkiv region," Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on September 7, noting that Ukrainians probably had already seen reports about the activity of the Ukrainian soldiers.

He added that "now is not the right time" to name the settlements that have been recaptured, but he thanked the military units "for their bravery and heroism during combat missions" in restoring the Ukrainian flag.

Breakthroughs by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region had been reported in recent days, with videos and photos of Ukrainian soldiers at recaptured villages around the town of Balaklia in the Kharkiv region circulating on social media. But there had been no confirmation from Ukrainian officials and it was not possible to verify the reports.

Ukraine also has claimed the recapture of several villages in the south of the country, where it has been waging a counteroffensive.

Zelenskiy also announced in his nightly address that the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine had passed sanctions against 606 individuals who belong to the Security Council of Russia, the Council of the Federation of Russia, and the state Duma.

"They are all responsible for this war, for the terror against our people. And none of them will escape responsibility -- it's only a matter of time," Zelenskiy said.

The leader of Russia's governing party, meanwhile, said that people in occupied regions of Ukraine are to vote on November 4 on whether they want to become part of Russia.

Andrei Turchak of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party said it would be "correct and symbolic" to hold votes on that date, a Russia's Day of National Unity, a public holiday.

"We are sure that 80 percent of the population will come to the referendum," the Moscow-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said according to TASS.

Officials in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine had previously suggested that referendum be held on September 11 to coincide with local elections in Russia.

Stremousov said earlier this week those plans had been postponed, citing "developments happening at the moment," an apparent reference to Ukraine's southern counteroffensive.

He was quoted by TASS on September 7 as saying he was in "solidarity" with Turchak and the region was preparing to hold a vote on November 4.

In a separate development on September 7, the UN Security Council heard testimony about the alleged removal of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Ilze Brands Kehris, the assistant UN secretary-general for human rights, told the Council there had been "credible allegations" of such transfers.

"We are concerned that the Russian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure to grant Russian citizenship to children without parental care, and that these children would be eligible for adoption by Russian families," she said.

Brands Kehris said Russian forces are also running a "filtration" operation in which Ukrainians in occupied territories are put through systematic security checks involving detailed interrogations about their political views and ties to the Ukrainian government or military.

Some Ukrainians have been tortured and sent to Russian penal colonies and other detention centers, she said.

"We are particularly concerned that women and girls are at risk of sexual abuse during 'filtration' procedures," she said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russia- zelenskiy-kharkiv-referendum-children/32023220.html

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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