Russia Will Force Zaporizhzhia Residents to Become Russian Citizens: Russian-backed authorities in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, one of the four “annexed” regions of Ukraine, declared this week that all residents living in the region will automatically become citizens of the Russian Federation by October 30.
The news comes from Ivan Fedorov, the Mayor of Melitopol, who revealed the plan on Telegram.
“Local [Russian-appointed – ed.] governors have announced that all residents of the occupied cities, towns and villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast will automatically be granted the status of citizens of the Russian Federation as of 30 October,” Mayor Ivan Fedorov said.
Russia’s excuse for forcing Zaporizhzhia residents to become Russian is that 93% of those who voted on the third day of the recent referendum in the region supported joining Russia. The referendum was fatally flawed, however, in that huge numbers of Ukrainian citizens have already fled the region and many of those who stayed didn’t turn out to vote.
Just 53% of Zaporizhzhia residents turned out to vote in the poll, which appeared to show a vast majority of local people supporting the Kremlin’s plan to absorb Zaporizhzhia into the Russian Federation.
Reports also revealed this week that Russian-installed authorities in the region were requiring phone checks of local residents in preparation for the implementation of military censorship in the region.
“From today in the Zaporizhia region, law enforcement officers have gun a selective preventing check of the mobile phones of citizens,” Kremlin-backed official Vladimir Rogo said, adding that those who are promoting “propaganda resources of the terrorist Kyiv regime” would receive warnings and then fines.
Why It’s Happening
Also according to Fedorov, Kremlin-appointed officials in the region were compelled to introduce the measure because large numbers of local people have so far refused to accept Russian passports. Fedorov accused Russian authorities of attempting to intimidate local residents into accepting Russian citizenship but insisted that any decrees issued by the Kremlin are null and void in Ukraine.
If local residents are refusing Russian passports, it underscores the fact that a majority of residents – if one counts those still present in Zaporizhzhia who didn’t vote as well as those who have already left the region and did not vote – did not back Russia’s proposal to absorb the region into the Russian Federation.
At the same time, Russian forces have fought to maintain control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Russian troops have been accused of using the site as a shield, knowing that Ukrainian forces can’t launch missile strikes on the plant.
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.