Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From September 17 to September 23, 2022

The Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Clelia Frouté, Alicia Tintelin.

09/19/2022: Setting up a referendum in the Lugansk People’s Republic. – Clelia Frouté –

On September 19, the Public Chamber of the Lugansk People’s Republic called on the head of government, Leonid Pasechnik, to immediately hold a referendum on the accession of the separatist region of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. According to them, the referendum is motivated by a need to secure the territory and provide it with new prospects. Leonid Pasechnik signed the law on holding the referendum on September 20, 2022, and the very next day the Electoral Commission approved the procedure for holding a referendum on Lugansk’s accession to the Russian Federation.  491 polling stations will be opened in the territory, with an additional 201 accessible to refugee residents in Russia. Ballots will be printed only in Russian.

09/19-20/2022: Setting up a referendum in the Donetsk People’s Republic. – Clelia Frouté –

On September 19, the Civic Chamber of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has called on Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk government, and the People’s Council (parliament) to hold a referendum as soon as possible to settle the issue of the region’s accession to the Russian Federation. On September 20, Denis Pushilin signed the law allowing the referendum to be held, which was approved by the Electoral committee on the same day. It is planned that 450 polling stations will be opened on the territory, as well as 200 polling stations on Russian territory for those who have taken refuge there. This represents about 1.5 million voters.

09/20/2022: Emergency referendums on secession and accession to the Russian Federation in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia. – Clelia Frouté –

After coming under the control of a military-military administration, created and headed by Yevgeny Balitsky, and armed troops of the Russian Federation, the Zaporizhia region will see a referendum on secession and accession to the Russian Federation between 23rd and September 27,2022. 

Balitsky had announced on June 8, 2022 that such a referendum would be held, and on July 23, 2022 he signed a decree for the creation of an Electoral Commission to organise the referendum. On August 8, an order for its preparation by the Electoral Commission of the Zaporizhia region was signed, and on September 20, 2022, Balitsky signed the order for its organisation and validation of its implementation on the dates indicated. 

The popular movement “We are with Russia”, led by Vladimir Rogov, had been pressing ahead with the process, and claims that voting will be held on about 73% of the occupied territory of the region. There are expected to be 394 accessible polling stations in the territory, with an additional 85 in Russia. 500,000 residents are registered to vote, and ballots will be in Ukrainian and Russian.

In the Kherson region, which has been under the control of the Russian army since the beginning of March 2022 and is now governed by a military-civilian administration headed by Vladimir Saldo, the region’s Public Council asked him on September 20, 2022 to immediately organise a referendum, identical to the one held in Zaporizhia. Saldo signed the decree on the same day, and the referendum will be held in the same period as in the other regions concerned. An Electoral Commission had been established on July 22, 2022 for this purpose. According to the Commission, the lists include 750,000 voters, and 198 polling stations will be opened in the region. Refugees in Russia and Crimea will also be able to vote. Ballots will be printed in Ukrainian and Russian.

09/22/2022: Volodymyr Zelensky calls on the UN for “just punishment” for Russia. – Alicia Tintelin –

On September 22, Volodymyr Zelensky had the opportunity to speak during the third day of general debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. The Ukrainian leader received an exceptional authorization allowing him to intervene via a pre-recorded video. His speech once again focused on Russia and its aggression against Ukraine over the past seven months. He asked the international community for a «just punishment» given to Russia, and thus for the establishment of a court specially created to judge the facts. Zelensky also called for Russia to be deprived of its right of veto in the Security Council. «We will not let this entity prevail over us» he launched, finally greeted by the ovations of the leaders present in New York.

09/23/2022: Referendums for integration of occupied and breakaway regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. – Clelia Frouté –

Referendums began on September 23, 2022 in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, as well as in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. They are scheduled to be held until September 27, 2022. The purpose of these votes is to validate the attachment, considered as annexation, of these regions occupied by Russian troops to Russia, and the question addressed to voters in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia is: “Do you want to secede from Ukraine, create independent states and become part of Russia?”. Electronic voting is not foreseen, and residents of these regions can go to the polling stations prepared for this purpose until September 27, 2022 at 4 pm. Counting is scheduled for the last day after the polls close. The polls have been described as a “sham” by Kyiv and its Western partners, while Putin announced his support for the outcome of the votes, invoking their right to exercise the right of self-determination of peoples, in accordance, he said, with the UN Charter.

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