Russian passports issued in Melitopol, Zaporozhye
Melitopol and Zaporozhye have joined Kherson for regions whose residents had Russian passports issued for them.
The head of the military-civil administration of the Zaporozhye region, Yevgeny Balitsky, on Sunday handed over Russian passports to dozens of residents in a step that marks another rejection of Ukraine from the region.
"Russia will not go anywhere," he promised the residents as he handed them over the Russian documents, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
The ceremony of presenting passports in Melitopol was timed to coincide with Russia Day, designated to celebrate the state sovereignty of the Russian Federation from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
"Today, on Russia Day, I congratulate everyone who has become a citizen of a huge, great, fair country with pride in my heart," Balitsky said at the ceremony.
"These lands were at one time conquered by the tsars, rebuilt by the Soviet Union, and will develop together with the entire people of Ukraine," he stressed.
Zaporozhye and Melitopol were the second and third regions, respectively, to have Russian passports issued for their residents, with Kherson being the first.
The first 23 Russian passports had been issued in the Kherson region on Saturday.
"This is a historic event for us. The confirmation of Russian citizenry was solemnly received in the Kherson Region. This is the most important document that exists in a person's life," Vladimir Saldo, the head of the region's administration, told Sputnik.
The Russian troops have taken control of the Kherson region and part of the Zaporozhye region in the course of the special military operation in Ukraine.
Local military-civilian administrations have been formed, the broadcasting of Russian TV channels and radio stations has been launched, and trade ties with Crimea are being restored. The regions have announced plans to become constituent entities of the Russian Federation.