Dhe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned citizens in the occupied territories against mobilization by the Russian military. “By all means hide from the Russian mobilization. Avoid convocations,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address on Friday. In the four Russian-occupied areas of Cherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, mock referendums on accession to Russia, which will run until Tuesday, started on Friday. The Russian leadership wants to get the population in the mood for the annexation of the Ukrainian territories with a series of concerts.
The Moscow-loyal separatists and the Russian military administrations in the regions speak of a complete success of the votes and a high turnout. This is said to be over 20 percent in three of the four regions after the first day. This information cannot be verified independently.
G7 condemn mock referendums
The heads of state and government of the seven leading democratic economic powers (G7) condemned the votes in the strongest possible terms. The mock referendums are being used as a “false pretext” to change the status of sovereign Ukrainian territory that has fallen victim to Russian aggression, they said on Friday. The forced votes have no legitimacy whatsoever. The Russian approach disregards “democratic norms” with its “open intimidation of the local population”. The votes did not reflect the will of the Ukrainian people.
Videos are circulating on social networks of election workers accompanied by gunmen going from door to door to get people to vote.
“We will never recognize these referendums,” the heads of state and government assured. An expected annexation of the areas will also never be accepted. In a similar statement, US President Joe Biden also rejected recognition of the votes.
Zelenskyy warns Ukrainians in occupied territories against recruitment
In this context, Zelenskyj spoke of “pseudo-referendums” that the world had “unmistakably condemned”. At the same time, he warned citizens in the occupied territories against mobilization by the Russian military. The 44-year-old added that anyone who has already been drafted into the Russian army should sabotage their activities and report to Kyiv and then flee as quickly as possible.
According to him, the Ukrainian army has recaptured 9,000 square kilometers and liberated 400 towns since the start of its offensive. This was also possible thanks to the help of the local population. The advance strengthened Kiev’s position during the UN General Assembly. “Ukraine has shown that not only the truth is with us, but also strength,” said Zelenskyy.
Kyiv withdraws accreditation from Iran’s ambassador
The Ukrainian government revoked the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador in Kyiv for supplying combat drones to Russia. As a result, he can no longer meet his obligations in the host country and, following diplomatic practice, will probably have to return to Tehran. “In addition, the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv will be significantly reduced,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. Just hours earlier, a person had died in a drone attack in the port city of Odessa.
At the end of August, US intelligence reported that Russia had bought Iranian drones to use in its war of aggression against Ukraine. Neither Moscow nor Tehran have officially confirmed the purchase. In the past few weeks, however, several Iranian-made drones have been shot down by the Ukrainians over the battlefields.
Authorities complete exhumations in Izyum
In the eastern city of Izyum, recently recaptured by Ukrainian troops, exhumations in a patch of forest containing more than 400 new graves are nearing completion. “A total of 436 bodies were found,” said the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Synyehubov, on Friday. Most of these died violent deaths. 30 bodies showed signs of torture, he explained. According to Ukrainian sources, the Izyum transport hub was occupied by Russian troops from April 1 to September 10.
Dispute about mobilization in Russia
Following Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s order for partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine, the leadership in Moscow complained of “hysteria” in the country. At the same time, it excluded reservists with certain professions from forced recruitment. Thousands of men fled the country as reservists were called up for the war in Ukraine. Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov then accused the conscientious objectors of cowardice. “You know, you’re nothing more than a coward, traitor and second-class person,” he said to conscientious objectors on his Telegram channel on Friday.
On the other hand, the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny repeated his criticism of the partial mobilization with which Putin called up 300,000 reservists for the war against Ukraine. “Putin binds hundreds of thousands with blood, his mobilizations and “referendums”,” criticized the politician. According to him, he was sentenced to twelve days in solitary confinement for his allegation that Putin was involving the citizens in his crimes with his mobilization.
That will be important on Saturday
Forced votes on joining Russia will continue on Saturday in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. However, basic democratic principles are disregarded and there are no independent international observers present as a supervisory authority.