The polling stations in the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and in the former Ukrainian provinces of Kherson and Zaporozhye started on Saturday at 08:00 local time for the inhabitants to decide on their accession to Russia.
Earlier this week, the leadership of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as liberated Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions decided to hold referendums on accession to the Russian Federation in response to the address of the civil movements.
The vote in all four regions started on September 23, and will end in the next four days on September 27, the Russian news agency TASS, reported.
Donbass is interested in the legitimacy of the accession referendum procedure, and in their approval by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS, LPR envoy to Russia Rodion Miroshnik was quoted as saying earlier this week.
The report quoting a phone poll, carried out by the National Institute for Opinion Surveys and Marketing (INSOMAR) on September 19 among 4,000 respondents, LPR’s accession is supported by 83% of residents, DPR’s accession is backed by 80%, while 72% and 65% of respondents favor accession in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, correspondingly.
On Monday, the report said, LPR and DPR Civic Chambers addressed heads of the republics with a call to immediately hold referendums on accession to Russia.
On Tuesday, parliaments of the republics adopted laws on referendums. All citizens aged above 18 are eligible to vote regardless of their location. Residents of DPR territories under Kiev’s control will be able to vote, if they evacuated to Russia or to the liberated territories of the republic.
The LPR Central Election Commission will announce the outcome within five days. Heads of the republic, Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin reportedly already signed laws on the referendums.
The LPR and DPR coordinate and synchronize their preparation processes, which involve experts on holding the vote in order to ensure transparency. LPR authorities plan to invite international observers to the referendum. DPR Civic Chamber stated that everything is ready for the vote, including Central Election Commissions of both republics.
The vote will take place in both republics till September 27. In the DPR, the vote will be mixed: both in person and online. The authorities see no difficulties to hold the vote in the DPR military units.
In case of a positive outcome, DPR head Denis Pushilin will ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to decide on the admission of the republic into the federation.
Meanwhile, Kherson Region military-civilian administration head Vladimir Saldo also announced a decision to hold an accession referendum on September 23-27. The initiative was put forward unanimously by the regional Public Council.
The congress of Zaporozhye Region residents also gathered in Melitopol this week to discuss a referendum on accession to Russia. The local movement, “We are Together with Russia” addressed the military-civilian administration head, Yevgeny Balitsky, requesting to hold an accession referendum.
Commenting on the referendums, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted Russia’s position that it is the people of corresponding territories that must define their future. According to the Foreign Minister, the current situation confirms that the people of Donbass want to be the masters of their fate.