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‘LNR,’ ‘DNR,’ and Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions set ‘referendum’ dates on joining Russia

Source: RIA Novosti

This is a developing story.

RIA Novosti reports that the assembly of the Russian-controlled Luhansk People’s Republic has set a “referendum on joining Russia” that will run from September 23 to September 27 this year.

Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-controlled DNR, says that the DNR will also schedule a “referendum” for September 23–27. No electronic voting will be possible during the “referendum”: “Given the limited preparation time,” Pushilin remarked, “it would have been difficult.” According to Pushilin, the DNR referendum question about the self-proclaimed republic joining Russia will be framed as follows: “Do you support DNR’s joining Russia in the status of a Russian Federation subject?”

According to Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, in the event that the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics join Russia, their current military “volunteer” units will automatically become servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces. “Militarily, we will certainly strengthen. There are very many components here, starting with the fact that those guys who are now fighting in the volunteer units of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics will become full-fledged soldiers of the Russian army. This significantly changes the situation, from a number of positions,” Kartapolov believes, as reported by Mediazona.

Earlier, two Meduza sources close to the Russian presidential administration suggested that “referendums” would also be held in the other Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine — in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions — on September 23–27. At present, Evgeny Balitsky, head of the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Zaporizhzhia, has signed an order to conduct a “referendum” in the region on September 23–27. “There’s no sense in delaying the procedure. Technically, we are ready. The security of polling stations has been ascertained,” Balitsky said.

A similar order has been signed by Vladimir Saldo, head of the Russian occupation administration of Kherson region, who wrote on Telegram that a “referendum on joining the Russian Federation” would be held on the same dates in his region.

Following these reports and the news about changes to the Russian Criminal Code, the Moscow Exchange’s share price went down sharply. By 3:12 p.m., Moscow Exchange Index dropped by 7.54% to 2,247.2 points, and RTS Index dropped by 7.44%, to 1,177.99 points. By 3:20 p.m. Moscow time, the indices had recouped some of the losses, but remained at their lowest levels in recent weeks.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, in response to the news: “Sham ‘referendums’ will not change anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilization’. Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.”

Earlier on Tuesday, multiple Russian sources reported that Vladimir Putin would address the nation regarding the "referendums" on Tuesday evening. By the evening, however, RT and Channel One had deleted the news from their sites. Forbes Russia has since reported that Putin's speech will be held on September 21.

Update. Leonid Pasechnik, head of the Russian-installed administration of the LNR, gave a public address about the forthcoming “referendums,” stating: “Putin has assured us that Russia will help us free the entire Donbas territory from the Ukro-nazis. There can be no doubt that this goal of the special operation will be achieved. There is no way back anymore.”

RIA Novosti reported that the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region also plans to hold a “referendum on joining Russia” on September 23–27.

It was reported earlier that public chambers of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have appealed to their respective leaders to hold “referendums on joining Russia,” according to TASS. Interfax reported that LNR officials asked for the “referendum” to be held “immediately,” claiming Russian annexation would “secure the territory of the LNR and open new opportunities for its restoration.”