Ukraine says residents coerced into Russian annexation vote

Russia is aiming to annexe four occupied regions of Ukraine and hence the launched referendums on Friday (September 23). The referendums can prove to be a turning point in the seven-month-old war but Kyiv has termed it a sham. 

Ukraine also claimed that it saw residents threatened with punishment if they did not vote. The Ukrainian officials have claimed that people were banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over. 

As per the officials, the armed groups were going to homes to force people to cast ballots, and employees were threatened with the sack if they did not participate. 

Yuriy Sobolevsky, the displaced first deputy council chairman of the Kherson region, said, “Today, the best thing for the people of Kherson would be not to open their doors.” 

The results of the referendums will be extremely important for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently announced a military draft this week to enlist 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine. 

Voting is underway in the provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the east and southeast. These regions represent about 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory. The voting was due to run from Friday to Tuesday. 

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