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What Happened Last Time Russia Held “Pseudo Referendums”?

Ukraine
Russian President Putin.

Residents of the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson fear that Russia is about to launch a “pseudo referendum” that will serve as a pretext or justification for Russia to attempt to annex or “liberate” two eastern regions of the country.

Reports reveal how Russian soldiers and officials have reportedly begun printing off ballot papers to use in a referendum, echoing the actions taken by the Russian military and Kremlin during the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned this week that any such referendums being held in Ukraine is a red line that would stop him from continuing peace talks with the Russian Federation. 

If Russia is going by its playbook, what is about to happen in Kherson and elsewhere could pan out in a very similar way to the 2014 referendum held in Crimea.

Pseudo Referendums – What Happened in 2014?

In March 2014, Russia conducted a controversial referendum – not organized or endorsed by the Ukrainian government – asking residents in the region whether they supported the territory being controlled by the Kremlin. 

Specifically, residents were asked if they believed that Sevastopol and Crimea should become Russian territory, but did not include an option to maintain the status quo. 

In Crimea, 97.47% of valid votes were cast in favor of joining the Russian Federation, while 2.53% supported restoring the 1992 Crimea constitution and becoming a part of Ukraine.

In Sevastopol, 96.59% of valid votes supported joining Russia, and 3.41% supported restoring the 1992 Crimea constitution. 

The remarkably high level of support for joining Russia was likely a result of the unofficial referendum not being conducted fairly – although, a substantial percentage of the region’s residents were already known to be pro-Russia. Large numbers of pro-Kiev residents boycotted the referendum entirely. 

Why the Pseudo Referendums Was Clearly Illegitimate

Beyond obvious problems with the way that the referendum was conducted, and the fact that not everybody turned out to vote in the first place, the United States and most of Europe insisted that the referendum violated international law and the Ukrainian constitution. 

Under the constitution of Ukraine, any changes to the country’s territory must be approved by a referendum of all people in the country – meaning the referendum conducted by the Russians didn’t grant them the power to annex the region. 

Despite the referendum being recognized as invalid and the territory of Crimea being disputed, it has been controlled by the Russian Federation since 2014. 

This could be the path that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to use once again in the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He 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.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Alex

    April 29, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    It is interesting that the Ukrainians of Donbass do not care that some Anglo-Saxons consider their referendums not real. Remember this.

  2. sprinter

    April 29, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    Care is paramount, because the Anglo Saxons are the sacred repository of democracy, carried on from the most sainted, and beautiful Greeks, who brought civilisation to the world. When over two thousand years ago the great Greeks and renowned thinkers gave birth to democracy, the most hallowed system of government that the world has ever known. Democracy has stood the test of time because it has intrinsic fairness and beauty of respect contained within its multifaceted grandure.
    The Anglo Saxons adopted democracy gradually over many centuries, after initially dealing with kings.Even the Romans hated the idea of kings, because their history showed that one man running the country, like Putin, was a recipe for tyranny.

    A reasonable litmus test for tyrant , is the length of time in office, Putin has been in office over 20 years. In the usa democracy presidents are limited to 4 years.

  3. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Don’t worry Alex, nobody else cares what you or any separatists thinks is real either.

    When you guys get booted out of Ukraine, your fake referendums will be just another footnote in history.

  4. Alex

    April 30, 2022 at 5:45 am

    Soon the Bandera Nazis will find out what the boot of the Polish pan is.

    According to the latest data, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania have prepared a secret document on the division of western Ukraine. Finally, the peoples of the west of Ukraine will get to Europe. But there is another document about what European countries will do with the Bandera Nazis, whom they hate. this development of events is not a secret; many analysts have written and continue to write about it. The good news is that the Ukrainians of the East will return to their Russian brothers, and we will return our original Polish territories. It’s just great!

  5. CK

    April 30, 2022 at 6:07 am

    Sometimes, I envy your delusions Alex. The world you live in must be fascinating!

    One minute you accuse us of being Bandera Nazis, the next that we will crush Bandera Nazis, one moment we are enemies, next moment we are “liberators” of Ukraine …

    Go easy on that Vodka man, I hear medical supplies are so low over there you’ll soon have to be using it to clean wounds!

  6. Alex

    April 30, 2022 at 7:50 am

    “NATO is a ploy, it is a structure whose purpose is to hide America’s dominance over Europe.”
    Charles de Gaulle.

    It must be understood that Europe will also be responsible for subordinating the United States. Questions “what are we for” are no longer important for Russia. If Europe wants to become a bargaining chip in the battle against Bandera’s Nazis, then so be it. Personally, I, like many acquaintances from Poland, are going to Russia. There are more chances to survive in Russia. And let the idiots die for US interests in Ukraine.

  7. Alex

    May 1, 2022 at 7:07 am

    And now, not stupid propaganda from pseudo-journalists and squealing Bandera bastards, but real facts. Let’s see how Russia “lost”:

    In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, Russia has destroyed 143 aircraft, 112 helicopters, 660 unmanned aerial vehicles, 279 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,678 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 308 multiple rocket launchers, 1,196 field artillery pieces and mortars, as well as 2,503 units of special military vehicles. Destroyed 43.814 Bandera Nazis and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 3,540 soldiers surrendered.

    Utilization of US and NATO equipment is proceeding according to plan:
    High-precision missiles “Onyx” in the Odessa region at a military airfield destroyed a hangar with weapons and ammunition received from the United States and European countries, and also destroyed the runway.

    Every day, the flags of the people’s militia of Donbass, Russia and Chechnya are raised over a new liberated settlement. Everything can be seen on the map of hostilities.

    A French journalist released another film about the atrocities of Bandera Nazi bastards. The photo and video evidence is simply amazing – these bastards of Bandera Nazis only need to be exterminated, finally and completely.

    The point is that no matter how hard the pseudo-journalists try to lie, the truth inevitably comes to the surface.

    By the way, Russian special forces seized important documents from one of the American biological laboratories in Ukraine. The announcement is this: the experiments that the Americans conducted on people, on Ukrainians, amaze the imagination with their cruelty.

    I will say this: “Hello, new Third Reich, you will also be destroyed.” History is cyclical. Again the West is trying to defeat Russia and will be defeated again.

  8. CK

    May 1, 2022 at 8:09 am

    Hey Alex, look at this! You’re in the news!

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/01/troll-factory-spreading-russian-pro-war-lies-online-says-uk

    “Russian internet trolls based in an old arms factory in St Petersburg are targeting world leaders online and spreading support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the British government has said, citing research.”

    “The headquarters is allegedly located in rented space in St Petersburg’s Arsenal Machine-building Factory, a company that manufactures military equipment and technology.”

    “The study details how the Russian president’s regime is trying to manipulate public opinion on social media, as well as in the comments sections of major media outlets.”

    “The analysis suggests one main activity is “brigading”, to steer attention of discussion on social media and in comments sections of newspapers towards favoured opinions. Manipulation of polls in western media was also observed, including to skew the results of a survey on whether sanctions against Russia were supported.”

    Does this look like anyone we know? Also, sucks that they are making you work on a Saturday man! Is it that bad over there you guys can’t make ends meet?

    Does Sveta not have enough clients? Reach out man, we want to help!

  9. Alex

    May 2, 2022 at 8:11 am

    In the meantime, the Bandera Nazi from the Ukrainian troll factory lost his voice from screeching and choked on bile, let’s talk about how the day went:

    Politico reported thousands of foreigners fighting on the side of Ukraine
    Combat-trained Americans, along with thousands of other foreigners, are participating in the military operations in Ukraine on the side of Kyiv. Such an assessment is given in an article published in the American edition of Politico. The publication refers to retired military and employees of American PMCs, who are currently on the territory of Ukraine.

    The material notes that in Ukraine, in particular, the Task Force Yankee group, headed by the American Harrison Yosefovitz, operates. He previously worked as a police officer in Chicago, Illinois, and also served in the US Army (ground forces).

    On April 29, CNN, citing the family of an American citizen and PMC mercenary Willie Joseph, reported his death in Ukraine. According to the mother of the mercenary, he went to Poland on March 12 and crossed the border into Ukraine on March 12-13. The woman noted that in the group of mercenaries, in which her son was, there were citizens of “a variety of countries.”

    The mercenaries come from the USA, Canada, Georgia, Great Britain, Poland and Romania.
    More than a thousand mercenaries have already been destroyed. About a thousand more refused to participate in hostilities and returned to their former extremist deployment sites.

    The remaining 4.8-5 thousand foreign mercenaries should return to their states, since, according to international law, they are deprived of legal protection and “at best” they will face long-term imprisonment. As we understand, most likely they will never return home. an easy walk to hunt people turned out to be a trap forever.

    Representatives of the military-civilian administration of Kherson raised the Russian flag on the building of the local executive committee in the Russian-controlled village of Chernobaevka, where the Kherson international airport is located.
    Russian security forces also removed Ukrainian signs from the building of the local administration.
    According to the residents of Chernobaevka, the former head of the village administration, Igor Dudar, fled to the territory controlled by Ukraine. During his reign, the Eternal Flame was extinguished at the monument to the fallen heroes of the Great Patriotic War, and photographs of veterans were taken from the village Board of Honor. Now, as assured in the military-civilian administration, all this will be corrected.

    Over the past day, from 8:00 am on May 1 to 8:00 am on May 2, 159 people, including 29 children, were evacuated from Mariupol to Bezymennoe, Novoazovsky District. Then people flee to Russia. Do you need more evidence of who is the aggressor and the killer, and to whom they run for help? Yes, propagandists and liars cannot change this.

    During the day, Russian air defense systems destroyed 10 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the areas of the settlements of Vesele, Borshchevo and Balakleya in the Kharkiv region, Kisylivka in the Kherson region, Mayak in the Zaporozhye region, Dokuchaev, Korsun and Khanzhinkovo ​​of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as well as in the area of ​​the city of Lugansk. Western drones turned out to be just targets for Russia and Donbass.

    High-precision air-launched missiles hit 38 Ukrainian military facilities in a day. Among them are four command posts, 30 strongholds, areas of concentration of manpower and Ukrainian military equipment, and three warehouses of missile and artillery weapons in the areas of Pervomayskoye and Ilyichevka settlements.

    The Osa AKM air defense system and a battery of multiple launch rocket systems in the Arkhangelovka area were also destroyed. Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 27 strongholds, areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as a depot of rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition in the area of ​​​​the village of Chervonoe, Zaporozhye region. Up to 160 personnel and 26 units of Ukrainian armored vehicles were destroyed.

    During the day, the missile forces hit nine strongholds and areas of concentration of manpower and equipment, as well as the BM-21 Grad and an artillery battery in firing positions. Artillery subunits hit 26 command and control posts, 78 strongholds, 359 manpower and equipment concentration areas, and 67 artillery firing positions. Six ammunition depots, up to 280 personnel and 43 units of weapons and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were destroyed.

    In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, Russia has destroyed 146 aircraft, 112 helicopters, 683 unmanned aerial vehicles, 281 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,756 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 316 multiple rocket launchers, 1,234 field artillery and mortar guns, as well as 2,563 units of special military vehicles. All this is confirmed and documented. Now tell us about 200,000 dead Russians and 5,000 destroyed Russian tanks, clowns.

    The Ukrainian authorities are seeking the evacuation of all those at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol to the territory controlled by Kyiv in order to hide the presence among the military countries.

    Among those at the plant there are a large number of characters who will confirm the presence of mercenaries, and perhaps acting officers of the Western armies on the side of the Ukrainian radicals.

    Does the elimination of the influence of a few dozen (even thousands) of Nazis deserve to put a country of forty million at risk? This is not a completely correct question. This is a question that concerns the fundamental security interests of the Russian Federation.

    We all remember the beginning of Nazism in Ukraine:
    persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian language and the Russian media was carried out, sales of all printed materials in Russian were stopped, laws were adopted to promote Nazi theory and practice.

    The whole world understood that Ukraine is not worth starting a nuclear war, for which all the peoples of Russia are ready, but the peoples of the West are not ready. However, if crazy politicians want to try, it will be as President Putin said: “… we will all go to heaven, and you all will just die …”. Most importantly, the majority of Russians supported his words. Are you ready for war with Russia? Then go ahead and try it.

  10. CK

    May 2, 2022 at 9:17 am

    You can smell the panic when the story changes day by day.

    Day 1: We will take Kiev in 3 days! (Alex put’s on clown shoes)

    Day 2: All Bandera-Nazis will be crushed! (Alex puts own striped clown trousers, with suspenders)

    Day 3: Retreat is all part of the master plan! The Moskva suffered a fire! We remain master strategists! (Alex puts on clown shirt, with a water squirtie flower in his pocket)

    Day 4: Don’t look at Ukraine! Look at Biden, Afghanistan, Iraq, BLM, MAGA, Trump, Hunter Biden, look at the birds, Elon Musk, anywhere but what we are doing in Ukraine! (Alex puts on his clown makeup)

    Day 5: Look at all these fake documentaries, all these fake independent reporters, these pseudo-histocal facts, all this nonsense! (Alex puts on his bright green clown wig)

    Day 6: Donbas Militia will crush everyone in East! Battle of encirclement is imminent! Victory shall be ours, we swear bro, plz believe bruh! (Alex puts on his clown gloves)

    Day 7: No! We are not losing, it’s just because now there are thousands of Americans and Irishmen and Scots and god knows who else fighting with the Americans! We’d totes be winning if it weren’t for those pesky kids! (Alex grabs his clown equipment)

    Day 8+: Alex is revealed for the clown he is.

    Every day a different story huh? No wonder you clowns can’t get shit done in Ukraine, you have no focus.

  11. Alex

    May 2, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    I like your hysteria, Bandera Nazi. A beggar, vicious juvenile troll from the poorest country in Eurasia – Ukraine, who hid behind his mother’s skirt and does not fight with a machine gun in his hands, but squeals and hysteria here like a patient of the Lviv Regional Psychiatric Hospital. But we remember. what do you write from there. And here are two buts:
    1. Attributing other people’s words and fantasies to me will not work.
    2. All my data is easy to verify and is based on the state media of Western and Eastern countries, as well as independent journalists, whom you cannot accuse of lying, because they have an extremely high reputation in their field.
    Bottom line: which of us is a clown, you can see right away and it’s you. Tell your handlers you’re pathetic, unfit for the job, and you’re being paid 10 cents an hour for nothing.

  12. Alex

    May 3, 2022 at 9:55 am

    William Scott Ritter, Jr. is an American military analyst. Intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in this position for about 12 years. He became the Marine Rapid Deployment Force’s lead analyst on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq War. United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
    During Desert Storm, he served as an adviser to General Norman Schwarzkopf on ballistic missiles. Ritter later worked as a security and military consultant for the Fox News network. According to an interview he gave to Democracy Now! in 2003, he also had a long official relationship with the British foreign intelligence agency MI6.
    If the Bandera Nazis start squealing that he was bought by Putin, then let them shove their squeal up their ass.
    Here are Scott Ritter’s words:

    “Do you want to name the best students of military science today? These are Russian officers! And we treat them like children – “these are Russians.” And they are the most educated and trained officers of all who can be found. They understand everything better than us. They didn’t spend 20 years kicking down doors and slaughtering families in Iraq or crawling up hills in Afghanistan to kill a shepherd, that’s what we did, and the Russians think big.

    We think in small arrows. We watch a video of how a Russian column is destroyed or three tanks are knocked out. War is hell, people die there, and if you look at the little arrows, you will think that the Russians are defeated. But look at the big arrows! The Russians kept the 100,000-strong group of Ukraine in Kyiv. If they are not threatened, they will move forward for reinforcements.

    Therefore, you (Russians) send 40 thousand soldiers from Belarus and hold the enemy in place. You have 80,000 enemy forces in Odessa, you send 30,000 soldiers from Crimea – their (Security Council of Ukraine) group is stuck. You have 100,000 enemies in the Donbass, and you, the Russian troops, cannot let them go to Kyiv. You send the militia of Donetsk and Lugansk to the front line. The most difficult situation! But you clung to the enemy and hold him, don’t let him move!

    You are conducting a through attack to break through the corridor to the Crimea. And Mariupol is a key city on the way, we had to take it. The only city for which the Russians fought. Why? Because he was the only one that mattered. The rest played no role.

    You will not take 3 million Kyiv with a force of 40 thousand. It doesn’t happen! You will not take 1.6 million Kharkiv with a force of 50 thousand. But you will take Mariupol. They had to take it. This was a strategic necessity.

    This whole phase was the preparation of the battlefield. The Russians have destroyed fuel storage facilities in Ukraine. What is a tank without fuel? Coffin! And the truck? Another coffin. Warehouses of ammunition and food are blown up. A soldier who is hungry and thirsty will be killed.

    The Russians have rearranged everything for themselves in order to prepare for a massive pincer attack that will fall into the forces of the Ukrainians, who will have no food, no water, no fuel, no ammunition. Here’s what the second phase will look like.

    The Russians have moved away from Kyiv, they no longer need to hold that grouping, it will not be able to move without fuel anyway. They’re stuck! If they leave the city, Russian aircraft will destroy them. There will be no reinforcements, the enemy in Donbas cannot move. They are trapped.

    The Russians have closed the ring and will destroy everyone. Or they will capture a huge part of the Ukrainian army. And when that happens, there will be nothing left. And the Russians will be able to demand whatever they want. That’s why I say the Russians will win. Because I see the situation. I do not flatter myself with the illusions that “the Russians could not take Kyiv and Odessa.” THEY DIDN’T TRY!”

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