Russia will rig Kherson election results to support Ukraine exit, Britain says

Russia will rig Kherson election results to support Ukraine exit, Britain says

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According to UK officials, Moscow is pushing ahead with its plan to annex Ukraine’s Kherson region by staging a “rigged” election aimed at manipulating local support for joining the Russian Federation.

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If Russia holds a referendum in Kherson, which borders Russia-annexed Crimea, “it will almost certainly rig the results to show a clear majority in favor of leaving Ukraine,” the UK MoD said in an intelligence update on Saturday.

Russian forces took the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson in early March, but so far have not committed atrocities against civilians like in other areas of Ukraine, according to the Associated Press. Locals suspected they were spared because Russia has a special plan to hold a mock referendum to turn the area into the “Kherson People’s Republic,” like the pro-Russian breakaway areas in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainians Demonstrate Against Russian Invasion, Shouting

Ukrainians Demonstrate Against Russian Invasion, Shouting “Kherson is Ukraine”
(Reuters Marketplace – Newsflare video)

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to residents of occupied Kherson in April about Russia’s plan for an orchestrated referendum. He warned them to protect their personal information from attempts to spoof votes. “It’s a reality. Be careful,” he said.

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The Russian-installed military-civilian administration in Kherson announced that it would ask Russia to include Kherson in the Russian Federation, according to the British MoD.

“A key part of Russia’s original invasion plan was very likely to use rigged referendums to place the majority of Ukraine’s regions under long-term pro-Russian authority,” the British intelligence update said.

In this picture released by the Press Office of the President of Ukraine on Sunday, May 1, 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives for his meeting with US Speaker of the House Nancy on Saturday, April 30, 2022 Pelosi, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

In this picture released by the Press Office of the President of Ukraine on Sunday, May 1, 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives for his meeting with US Speaker of the House Nancy on Saturday, April 30, 2022 Pelosi, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Press Office of the President of Ukraine via AP)

“The fact that Russia only succeeded in imposing a pro-Russian local leadership in Kherson underscores the failure of the Russian invasion to make progress towards its political goals in Ukraine.”

Russian troops have occupied the city hall in Kherson and lowered the Ukrainian flag. The Russians replaced the mayor with their own appointee last month.

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Nevertheless, according to the British Ministry of Defense, citizens of Kherson should continue to demonstrate their resistance to the Russian occupation.

Live streaming footage shows people carrying a banner in the colors of the Ukrainian flag as they march amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine March 13, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine, in this still image from a social media report obtained by REUTERS video protest.

Live streaming footage shows people carrying a banner in the colors of the Ukrainian flag as they march amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine March 13, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine, in this still image from a social media report obtained by REUTERS video protest.

The wrong voting tactics have been used before. In 2014, a controversial referendum in Crimea amid Russian annexation was widely believed to be rigged, with results showing nearly 97% of voters favored joining Russia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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