Ukraine threatens jail time for participants in Russia annexation referendum

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister warned that citizens who participated in the referendum organized by Russia could face up to 12 years in prison.

“No referendum will be held on the territory of Ukraine. It is a farce. The criminal law contains a provision for punishment for citizens who participate in this activity,” said Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister. said in a speech on national television on September 4.

Vereshchuk said those who participated in or urged others to take part in the referendum would face up to 12 years in prison and confiscation of their property, and urged Ukrainian citizens to evacuate from Russian-controlled territories. control and do not participate in voting activities here.

“There is no excuse for one person going to a referendum,” the deputy prime minister said, adding that only “less than 2% of the population” was asked about how many people could vote.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk gives an interview to Reuters in the capital Kiev on April 11.  Photo: Reuters.

Deputy Prime Minister Vereshchuk in an interview in the capital Kiev in April. Photo: Reuters.

The announcement came as the pro-Moscow authorities in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces, as well as the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic announced preparations to hold a referendum on territorial annexation. land into Russia.

The Kremlin has not commented on the comments of the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine.

The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian lower house Grigory Karasin criticized Vereshchuk’s warning. “That’s democracy in Kiev. It’s strange that they haven’t threatened to execute their citizens,” he wrote on Telegram.

The two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk seceded from Ukrainian government control in 2014 and declared their independence, though not recognized. Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 21 approved a decree recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk. A few days later, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, explaining it had to act after two Ukrainian breakaway regions asked for help.

Kherson province, which Moscow has controlled since March, has set up an election commission to hold a referendum on Russia’s annexation. Meanwhile, the Zaporizhzhia government official appointed by Moscow said the province will hold a referendum to annex Russia in September.

British intelligence on August 15 said that Russia is in the process of promoting a plan to hold a referendum to annex the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic into its territory, but it is not clear whether a final decision has been made. .

Vu Anh (Theo RT, Guardian)

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