Ukraine war: Footage of voting at gunpoint emerges in referendums to join Russia

Donetsk, Ukraine - Despite fierce international criticism, a second day of voting is under way in four Russia-occupied Ukrainian territories in hastily convened referendums on becoming part of Russia.

A pro-Russian service member casts his vote in the separatist region of Luhansk, Ukraine.
A pro-Russian service member casts his vote in the separatist region of Luhansk, Ukraine.  © REUTERS

Russian state media published pictures showing more citizens at ballot stations on Saturday.

The voting, which internationally have no legitimacy and do not have the permission of Ukrainian authorities, are taking place in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as well as in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

Video on social media seem to show armed men forcing some residents to go to the polls, and other testimonies posted online back this up.

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The Ukrainian General Staff said that "employees of the 'election commissions,' accompanied by armed servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian federation," are collecting signatures of local residents directly at their homes.

The votes are scheduled to run until Tuesday. With a result indicating a majority for annexation seen as a foregone conclusion, the Kremlin says annexation itself could swiftly follow.

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Voting continues in Luhansk (pictured), Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.
Voting continues in Luhansk (pictured), Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.  © REUTERS

In a statement late Friday, President Joe Biden called the referendums "a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law."

"We will work with our allies and partners to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia," he said.

The referendums, also described as a "sham" by the G7 group of nations, are taking place as Ukrainian forces pursue their counter-offensive against Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

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This fightback also prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a partial mobilization of the army's reservists on Wednesday.

Despite fierce international criticism, a second day of voting is under way in four Russia-occupied Ukrainian territories in hastily convened referendums on becoming part of Russia.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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