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Amnesty International condemns referendums and calls for avoidance of “illegal annexations.”
Pro-Russian authorities in the Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporiyia regions of eastern Ukraine on Wednesday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept the annexation of the territories to Russia following annexation referendums held over the past few days that have been described as illegitimate by much of the international community.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Leonid Pasechnik, has thus signed a document requesting the annexation of the territory to the Russian Federation, a decision that has also been taken by Vladimir Saldo, head of the Kherson civil-military administration.
“Dear Vladimir, I am writing to you on behalf of the people of the Lugansk region. Taking into account the approval obtained through the referendum, I ask you to consider the possibility of adding the territory to Russia as part of the Federation,” Pasechnik has asserted in a missive, according to information of the Lugansk 24 TV channel.
Thus, he has assured that the inhabitants of the area have been victims of brutal shellings and “genocide perpetrated by Kiev for eight years.” “Lugansk residents have been targeted. In unsuccessful attempts to seize the territory, neo-Nazis have only increased terror by shelling civil and industrial infrastructure and destroying schools, hospitals and kindergartens,” he said.
“The Kiev regime, instigated by the West, leaves no one out: old people, women and, worst of all, children are dying,” he insisted before recalling that “not a single international organization has condemned Kiev’s actions in Donbas.”
For his part, Saldo stressed that more than 87 percent of voters have advocated the annexation “with their historical land” and stressed that the consultation was conducted in accordance with the general principles and norms of international law.
“Residents have made their decision and have decided to become part of Russia, where all are equal before the law. (…) The UN Charter proclaims the right of every nation to independently decide its way of existence, so holding this referendum is completely legal,” he has said.
For this reason, he has explained, “observers from several countries have affirmed that the results cannot be doubted”, which he considers legitimate. The referendums were held simultaneously in the Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporiyia regions between September 23 and 27.
The head of the military-civil administration of Zaporiyia, Yevgeni Balitsky, has sent a similar proposal to Putin, according to information from the Interfax news agency, which has had access to the document.
The missive thus seeks to initiate an annexation process that would “conclude in an international agreement between the region in question and the Russian territory” to form a “new subject within the framework of the federation.”
The Zaporiyia Electoral Commission has indicated that the decision has been made by 93.11 percent of the support after a turnout of 85.4 percent, although voting has been carried out in four of the region’s five districts.
However, the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, has assured that the turnout in the occupied areas of Zaporiyia has been 0.5 percent, a figure that contrasts markedly with those given by the pro-Russian authorities.
Fedorov has pointed out that “no civilized state” can recognize this vote and has announced that the Ukrainian state will continue to pay pensions and salaries of public sector workers in the occupied territories, as he has stated in a Telegram message.
AMNESTY CONDEMNS REFERENDUMS, CALLS TO PREVENT “ILLEGAL ANNEXATIONS”
The NGO Amnesty International (AI) earlier on Wednesday condemned “fake” referendums held in the territories of eastern Ukraine and called for avoiding “illegal annexations” of the occupied areas by Russia.
The organization’s deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivoshiv, asserted that “there is no legitimacy to these fake results announced by the Russian authorities” and stressed that “it is absurd to think that the results, which were obtained at gunpoint in the presence of Russian soldiers, are credible.”
“All this, which is illegal under international law, is nothing but another deplorable act typical of the Russian strategy of aggression against Ukraine,” he said before insisting that the results “do not change the legal status of the territories occupied by Russia regardless of what Russia declares next.”
In this regard, he stressed that “any decision towards annexation, as happened with Crimea, will be considered illegal and will constitute another flagrant violation of international law.” “Amnesty calls on Russia to respect its obligations as an occupying power and the immediate cessation of all illegal actions committed by Russia, including its war and aggression,” he pointed out.