Ukrainian intelligence this week warned that the Russian occupation administration is preparing a series of “pseudo-referendums” in regions currently occupied by the Russians, including Mykolayiv and Kherson, that will be used as justification to annex the regions, declare them as “people’s republics,” or potentially absorb them as part of the Russian state.
Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence revealed on Facebook that ballots, forms, brochures, posters, and booklets have already been printed in preparation for a “referendum” on the creation of a new pseudo-republic, much like the People’s Republic of Luhansk and the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
“Local residents are convinced – the real voting will not be held, except for the pokazovih polling stations organized in the quality of ‘pictures’ for Russian media. ‘Voting’ will be formed using passport data collected while receiving “humanitarian aid”. In order to get food rations, residents had to fill out a questionnaire with personal information,” the update reads.
The documents and ballots were even reportedly printed in a home in Kherson – 5a Horkyi Street.
According to the update, a referendum will be held on the election of a new mayor and the “administrative accession to the occupied Crimea” of the city of Snigurivka in the Mykolaiv region.
“Residents are urged to come to the polling station at the scheduled time,” the update also says. “The event is organized by the pro-Russian appointed chairman of the local council Tatiana Mezina and former chairman Alexander Larchenko.”
Ukrainian intelligence also suggests that Ukrainian citizens in the occupied regions in the east are being promised Russian passports, and the Russian ruble is beginning to be circulated already.
A Repeat of 2014
The Kremlin claimed there was an 83% turnout.
Then-U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized at the time that “Russia’s actions were in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that the United States would work with European partners to impose costs on Russia for its actions.
Russia used the results of the March 16 referendum as a pretext for the annexation of the region in Ukraine. By March 18, Russia had incorporated Crimea into its territory as two federal subjects – the federal city of Sevastapol and the Republic of Crimea.
Sanctions and international outrage followed, but were met with threats from the Russian Federation of the use of nuclear weapons to protect its territory.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.