Unruly Ukrainians are refusing to take part in Putin’s sham referendum despite being threatened at gunpoint by Russian soldiers

BRAVE Ukrainians in an occupied city have refused to take part in Putin’s mock referendum despite being threatened at gunpoint by Russian soldiers.

The referendum on joining Russia was launched on Friday in the Russian-controlled parts of the Kherson, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions – 15 percent of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.

A Russian mercenary wearing the symbol of the notorious Wagner military group stands guard outside a polling station in occupied Ukraine

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A Russian mercenary wearing the symbol of the notorious Wagner military group stands guard outside a polling station in occupied UkraineCredit: Russia 24
Voters are flanked by armed men as they cast their ballot in Mariupol in eastern Ukraine

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Voters are flanked by armed men as they cast their ballot in Mariupol in eastern UkraineCredit: EPA
Armed soldiers go door to door to gather votes for the referendum in Zaporizhia

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Armed soldiers go door to door to gather votes for the referendum in ZaporizhiaSource: Telegram

The mock referendum was widely criticized by the international community, as soldiers went door-to-door asking for votes at gunpoint and mobile polling stations were set up in the open air.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the vote “looked more like an opinion poll under the gun barrels”.

Fewer than 60,000 people remain in the town of Melitopol in the Zaporizhia region of southeastern Ukraine, which was home to over 150,000 people before Russia invaded Ukraine.

While civilians in the occupied territories across Ukraine have expressed fears of consequences if they refuse to vote, fewer than one in five residents of Melitopol actually cast their vote.

Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov described a sense of defiance in his city.

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Rusty Kalashnikovs were presented to civilians who were forced to join the Russian bloodbath

“Less than 60,000 out of 150,000 residents are now in the temporarily occupied town of Melitopol and are being held hostage by Russia.

“The occupiers have been trying to hold a mock referendum for three days, but failed. However, this will have little effect because we know that the results have already been drawn,” Fedorov said on the messaging app Telegram.

The exiled mayor explained how Russian occupiers went from “apartment to apartment” flanked by gunmen to collect votes during the three-day period “and were only able to find 20 percent of the residents”.

“Only 10 percent of them had to vote ‘for’ supporting the Russian Federation,” he added. “We understand that they voted against their will under pressure and at gunpoint.”

The leader explained that “when other people live there, they are forced to vote for the apartment owners,” adding that Russian occupiers also “catch people on the street” to force them to vote.

Russian soldiers also threatened to kill residents’ families if they refused to vote. The names of those who voted against joining Russia were also noted, reports said.

Russia, meanwhile, claimed it had soldiers to monitor the vote for “security reasons”.

A day before the referendum, Fedorov warned against using Ukrainian men living under Russian control as “cannon fodder” on the front lines.

The mayor openly urged men aged 18 to 35 to “immediately leave the occupied territory via the Crimea-Georgia route” to avoid Russian mobilization in the occupied territories.

At the time, he said men were unable to leave the area and he believed male residents would be conscripted into Russian-backed forces.

Melitopol was one of the largest cities that fell seven months ago.

“Sham” vote to escalate the war

It is expected that the pre-determined voting results could result in these territories becoming independent (rejecting control of Ukraine entirely) before being incorporated into the Russian Federation.

In the event of an annexation by Moscow, the regions supported by Russia would automatically be “under the full protection” of Russia, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

And there are real fears that Putin could quickly escalate the war.

Experts believe Putin could use the annexation of Russia-controlled regions to claim that his territory is under attack from Western weapons – like NATO – that are being supplied to Ukraine.

Voting is expected to last until Tuesday.

The latest staged vote mirrors another fraudulent vote he enforced in Crimea in 2014 after Russia invaded the region. At the time, the illegal referendum that Russia claimed it had won with a reported 96.7 percent support was rejected by the international community.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss sharply criticized the “sham referendums” on Sunday.

She told CNN, “I don’t think he anticipated the strength of the free world’s response.

“We shouldn’t listen to him [Putin’s] Saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, we must continue to impose sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians.”

shambolic mobilization

The annexation vote in these areas threatened by the Ukrainian army’s successful counteroffensive comes as embattled and isolated Russia conducts a mass mobilization – an additional 300,000 troops.

Russia’s chaotic mobilization has resulted in newly mobilized recruits being sent to the front lines with shabby AK-47s either jammed or completely covered in rust, or conscripts sent into combat without training.

Tatyana Dotsenko explained how her 45-year-old husband, Andrei Kozyrev, was mobilized in her city of Lipetsk before he joined 1,000 other men in the 237 investigation”.

Bold civilians have staged mass protests against enforced conscription.

Dramatic footage of a huge protest in Makhachkala, Dagestan — an epicenter of the Russian resistance — emerged on Sunday.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested as thousands tried to flee the country, leading to thousands of arrests.

According to OVD-Info, over 2,000 Russians have been arrested for protesting against Putin’s mobilization policies in 33 cities across the country, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita and Ivanovo.

Dramatic footage showed officers dragging away protesters – some of whom have been accused of holding illegal rallies and in some cases discrediting Putin’s forces, which could result in up to 15 years in prison.

It followed the arrest of over 1,300 protesters on Wednesday following Putin’s announcement on live television.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russian conscripts to sabotage the army from within.

He said during his speech on Saturday: “If you join the Russian army, sabotage enemy activities, hinder Russian operations, give us important information about the occupiers – their bases, headquarters, warehouses with ammunition.

“Avoid draft letters. Try to get into the free territory of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, desperate Russians are trying desperately to flee the country to avoid being sent to the front lines.

Huge queues have formed at the borders with Finland, Georgia and Mongolia as men rush to get married to avoid conscription.

Flights have also been disrupted, with fares as high as £10,000 for travel on Russia’s national airline Aeroflot.

The vote gives civilians two choices about being part of Russia or not

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The vote gives civilians two choices about being part of Russia or notPhoto credit: Getty
Thousands of opponents of mobilization were arrested in Russia

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Thousands of anti-mobilization protesters have been arrested in RussiaCredit: AP
Police officers arrest a man protesting against the mobilization in Moscow

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Police officers arrest a man protesting against the mobilization in MoscowPhoto credit: AFP

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6300957/defiant-ukrainian-refuse-vote-held-at-gunpoint-by-russians/ Unruly Ukrainians are refusing to take part in Putin’s sham referendum despite being threatened at gunpoint by Russian soldiers

DevanCole

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