Zaporozhye referendum set for September: Official
Zaparozhye could less than a month from now become part of the Russian federation depending on the results of the popular poll.
A referendum regarding the status of Zaparozhye and Berdiansk, both of which have been liberated by the Russian armed forces over the Ukraine war, is set to be held in September. However, the exact date will be disclosed at a later time, Berdiansk mayor Alexander Saulenko told reporters on Wednesday.
"The referendum will be held on our territory, of course. We are preparing for this referendum, it is planned for September, but I can't say the exact date yet," Saulenko said.
Since the start of the war, the Russian military took control of the Azov part of Zaparozhye and Kherson, liberating large cities such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk, as well as cutting off Kiev from the Sea of Azov.
Kherson and Zaparozhye had new administrations formed in them, with Russian TV channels and radio stations broadcasting there and trade and transport ties with Crimea being restored. Both regions have announced plans to become part of Russia.
The authorities of Zaporozhye had previously affirmed they were going ahead with their plans of holding a referendum on joining Russia.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the region's administration, indicated earlier that the referendum could be held in the autumn. Balitsky had signed in July a decree announcing the start of preparations for a referendum on joining Russia and the creation of an election commission to conduct elections.
The authorities in Zaporozhye also underlined their desire for permanent Russian military bases on their territories.
Council of the military-civil administration for Zaporozhye member Vladimir Rogov said that the permanent deployment of Russian troops in the region would ensure its security against attempts of external aggression.
Kherson and most of Zaporozhye became under the control of the Russian forces after the Donetsk Peoples Republic and Lugansk People's Republic respective governments requested help from Russia as they were under intensive offensives by Ukrainian troops.
Ukraine is still trying to take over the regions, with several attacks launched against both Zaparozhye and Kherson, though all of these offensives have been met with failure.
Russia's military repelled an offensive launched by the Ukrainian armed forces in Mykolaiv and Kherson, which they carried out at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday, adding that the Ukrainian units suffered major losses.
The Ukrainian armed forces lost more than 560 troops, 26 tanks, and two attack aircraft during the attempted offensive, the Russian ministry revealed.