Russia says observers from 40 countries to monitor Ukraine referendum

Russia’s Central Election Commission said more than 100 international observers from 40 countries were involved in monitoring the referendums in four regions of Ukraine.

“At the referendums in the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Lugansk and two provinces of Kherson, Zaporizhia, there will be more than 100 international observers from 40 countries working, including no observers from Russia. “, Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) posted on Telegram on September 25.

editor Russia News Gianfranco Vestuto, an Italian observer, said over the weekend that the referendum in Donetsk was intended to “express the will of the people” and not the “annexation” of Russia as the West accuses.

“I want to emphasize that developments in Donbass and other regions are not annexation at all. This is voluntary and free accession to Russia. What EU (European Union) leaders say no We will try to clarify and speak up about this,” said Mr. Vestuto.

People take part in a vote on the referendum to join Russia in Lugansk, Ukraine, on September 23.  Photo: Reuters.

People take part in a vote on the referendum to join Russia in Lugansk, Ukraine, on September 23. Image: Reuters.

Pro-Russian authorities in four Ukrainian provinces including Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia held a vote on their desire to join Russia from September 23 to September 27. In addition, the Russian-controlled area of ​​Mykolaiv province will be merged into the neighboring Kherson province, so it will also be eligible to vote.

Voting is divided into two phases. During the first four days, election officials came knocking on doors or holding meetings in residential areas. Pro-Russian officials say the measure is to ensure security. On September 27, people voted directly at the reception points.

The pro-Russian government in Kherson said 750,000 people would turn out to vote. Zaporizhzhia also gives similar numbers. Donetsk says it printed 1.5 million votes.

The Ukrainian government and Western countries have criticized these referendums as staged referendums and said they would not recognize the results. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that annexation to Russia is a matter for the people of the Ukrainian provinces to decide for themselves.

Russia controls most of Lugansk, Kherson, 73% of Zaporizhzhia and 60% of Donetsk. As of January, about 1.4 million people live in Lugansk, 2.2 million in Donetsk, more than a million in Kherson and 1.6 million in Zaporizhzhia. After the war broke out, many people evacuated to other parts of the country and abroad.

Previously, the Crimean government supported Russia and held a referendum on March 16, 2014, then announced 97% of the votes in favor of the desire to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The merger agreement was signed with Russia on March 18, three days later the Russian lower house passed a law to realize this agreement.

Ngoc Anh (Theo TASS/Al Mayadeen English)

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