Head of German energy company who ‘observed’ sham referendum in Ukraine is suspended

27 September 2022, 11:10 AM
Stefan Schaller (far left) pretended to be an

Stefan Schaller (far left) pretended to be an "observer" at a fake referendum in the captured territories of the Zaporizhzhia oblast (Photo:ewf.de)

Stefan Schaller, manager of state-owned energy company Energie Waldeck-Frankenberg in Hessen, Germany, has been suspended after he illegally entered Ukraine to “observe” a sham referendum, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sept. 26.

The federal state of Hessen said that the removal of Schaller was a reaction "to his work as an observer at illegal fictitious Russian referendums in Ukraine."

The decision was made unanimously, after which the issue of Schaller's dismissal will be discussed, Hessen officials said.

Earlier, former Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk called for the dismissal of Schaller for helping Russia in its invasion and seizure of Ukrainian territory.

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Commenting on the suspension, chairman of Energie Waldeck-Frankenberg’s supervisory board Jürgen van der Horst said Schaller’s behaviour “clearly violates the worldview, moral values and philosophy of the company, which strongly rejects violations of international law and any form of violence.”

This decision to suspend Schaller should “not just send a clear signal, but also prevent (reputational) damage to the company,” van der Horst said.

Schaller had previously stated that he had gone to the Russian-occupied part of Zaporizhzhya Oblast as an “observer” at a sham referendum organized by invading Russian forces. He repeated Kremlin propaganda tropes on camera for the Russian media, and claimed that “everything is very well organized” and “the people are delighted.”

Earlier, Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration reported that the sham referendums arranged by the invaders had been “observed” by people from eight countries apart from Russia: Belarus, Syria, Egypt, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, Togo, and South Africa.

Russia announced that so-called “referendums” would be held across the occupied parts of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, and Kherson oblasts on Sept. 23-27, in an attempt to legitimize its seizure of more parts of Ukraine. Russia exerts control only over parts of these regions, while the provincial capital of Zaporizhzhya Oblast remains in Ukrainian hands.

Ukraine and the vast majority of Western countries have declared that the results of Russia’s sham referendums will not be recognized.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy also stressed that Russia holding a fake vote and attempting to annex Ukrainian territories would not stop the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s efforts to liberate them.

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