OSCE says referendums in pro-Russian regions of Ukraine are “illegal” and will be invalid

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Wednesday criticized plans announced by pro-Russian authorities in several Ukrainian regions on holding referendums on possible accession to Russia and declared that these votes will be “illegal”.

OSCE Chairman Zbigniew Rau, OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Margareta Cederfelt, and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Director Matteo Mecacci have said that referendums can only be called and conducted by the legitimate Ukrainian authorities.

Thus, they have stressed that any referendum planned by forces “illegally exercising ‘de facto’ control” in the occupied territories would be a violation of international standards and obligations under humanitarian law, while arguing that they would therefore have no legal validity.

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The self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as pro-Russian authorities in the Kherson and Zaporiyia regions, announced Tuesday their intention to hold a referendum on accession to Russia between September 23 and 27, a decision endorsed Wednesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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