| 19 June 2024, Wednesday |

Moscow holds local elections in occupied parts of Ukraine

In a bid to solidify its control over the region, Russian authorities initiated elections on Thursday, August 31, in areas of Ukrainian territory that are currently under Moscow’s occupation. Russia presently holds control over approximately one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including the annexed Crimea peninsula since 2014, and portions of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions annexed in 2022.
Moscow’s handpicked governors, which include veteran pro-Russian politicians and others known only locally are currently seeking full terms of office in the four regions. The polls will conclude on September 10, when Russia holds regional polls, according to a Reuters report.

All governors have the endorsement of President Vladimir Putin after joining the Kremlin’s United Russia bloc with fanfare in recent months. Consequently, most are facing only nominal opposition.
Kyiv has condemned the move and urged the citizens living in the “occupied areas” to not vote in the election, adding they should “leave the region” if possible.

“Russians have started holding ‘elections’ to pseudo-local councils and ‘legislative bodies’ in the temporarily occupied territories,” Ukraine’s National Resistance Center (NRC), an official agency, was quoted as saying by CNN.

“We urge Ukrainians not to open their doors to the occupiers and, if possible, to leave the region or their homes for the period of ‘early voting'” added NRC.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed the West saying Moscow will not cooperate with the bloc in areas on which its security depends.

“Even if suddenly, by some incomprehensible command from above, the West offers us to return to more or less normal contacts, we will already think whether we should do this, and if so, in what areas,” said Lavrov.

“We will not agree to interact with the West, on which our security depends in every sense: military-political security, economic, technological,” he added.

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