Referenda in LPR, DPR, and Zaporozhye begin amidst security measures
Referenda on Russian accession begin for the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics (DPR and LPR), as well as the Zaporozhye region.
The subject of having the referenda promptly was addressed earlier this week by the DPR and LPR public chambers, making official appeals to the rulers of their respective republics on Monday. A day later, the referendum dates were determined, and local legislatures overwhelmingly enacted referendum laws, while elections officials authorized the procedure.
Residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson areas joined the initiative on Tuesday, after local public organizations submitted identical demands to their authorities. The decree was posted on the Telegram channel of Yegeny Balitsky, the head of the Zaporozhye region's military-civilian administration. The decree of Kherson regional military-civilian administration head Vladimir Saldo also went into force, according to information relayed by the regional administration to TASS.
Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated in a televised address on Wednesday morning that Russia will support the referendum results.
Polling stations will be open for one day only.
On the eve of the vote, the format of the plebiscite was the source of much debate according to TASS. Due to time constraints and technological concerns, it was decided to use traditional paper ballots rather than digital voting. For security considerations, in-person voting will be limited to September 27, with voting arranged in communities and door-to-door on the remaining days.
DPR and LPR residents will be asked if they "support their republic's accession to Russia as a federal subject."
Residents of Zaporozhye and Kherson will be polled to see if they "favor the region's secession from Ukraine, the creation of an independent country, and subsequent accession to Russia as a federal subject."
Ballots will be printed in Russian in the DPR and LPR, where Russian is the only recognized state language. The question will be presented in both Ukrainian and Russian in the Zaporozhye and Kherson areas.
Russia's polling locations
Several residents of Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson were driven to abandon their homes as a result of continued Ukrainian artillery strikes. They will be able to vote in territories other than those mentioned, including Russia, TASS reported.
There will be up to 450 voting booths put up across the DPR, with an additional 200 set up for persons evacuated to Russia.
Residents of the LPR will be able to vote in 461 polling stations located across the republic, as well as in all Russian regions, where a total of 201 polling stations have been established.
Authorities in the Zaporozhye Region announced the installation of 394 voting booths around the region, as well as an additional 58 in Russia, the LPR, the DPR, and the Kherson Region.
Apart from their home area, where eight territorial and 198 district election commissions have been established, inhabitants of the Kherson Region will be able to vote in Crimea and a number of Russian cities, including Moscow.
The Central Election Commission in Kherson anticipates that around 750,000 people will vote. Around 750,000 people are registered to vote in the Zaporozhye Region. DPR has printed around 1.5 million ballots for its citizens.
Transparency and legitimacy
All four areas indicated their willingness, TASS reported, to be monitored by foreign observers in order to ensure maximum openness and legitimacy.
Yelena Kravchenko, Chairperson of the LPR Central Election Commission (CEC), stated on Wednesday that the CEC was accepting and "considering" applications from international observers, however, she did not specify the nations. According to the election official, international observers and Civic Chamber observers would be present at voting locations as well as outside them on election day.
The DPR CEC stated that it anticipates international observers and offered to provide further information after they have been accredited.
Marina Zakharova, the chairperson of the Kherson Region's election commission, stated that invitations had been extended "to a large number of countries."
The Russian Central Election Commission has agreed to deploy its own observers to supervise the referenda. The State Duma announced that representatives of all parliamentary groups will be invited to participate in the vote monitoring.
Security measures strengthened
Because of the threat of Ukrainian shelling and subversive operations, local authorities across the country are prepared to enhance security during election days, according to information from TASS.
The Zaporozhye Region, according to Vladimir Rogov, head of the civic movement 'We Are Together with Russia,' has "switched to the regime of counter-terrorism operation in the form of drills," with the involvement of heavy military equipment and beefed-up air defenses. During the referendum, entrances to cities in the Zaporozhye Regions will be controlled, and groups of voting officials going door-to-door will be guarded by police officers. Canine units and bomb squads inspected all polling locations before to the vote, according to Yevgeny Balitsky, Head of the Zaporozhye Region's Military-Civilian Administration.
The voting locations in the Kherson area will be secured by police and the Russian National Guard.
Along with the police, the LPR intends to seek the assistance of the Russian Defense Ministry's personnel in security operations. The DPR authorities stated that Russian troops will support law enforcement and the People's Militia in maintaining polling station security.