Russia was in such a rush to hold a referendum in Kharkiv Oblast on the area joining Mother Russia that it had already decided on the result – 75% for – ahead of the vote, RFE/RL’s Donbas Realii media project reported on Sept. 19.
The Russian-occupation forces intended to hold the sham vote on Nov. 1-7.
According to the agency, its journalists obtained a copy of a so-called “Strategy for holding a referendum on joining Kharkiv Oblast to Russia,” which was developed by the Kremlin, via sources in one of the Ukrainian intelligence agencies.
The “strategy” states as many as 142,000 “voters” were to “vote,” of which more than 100,000 were to be in favour of Kharkiv Oblast becoming part of Russia.
Given the fact that the document included a map of the front line as of Aug. 24, the Kremlin must have prepared it recently, the journalists said.
The organizers of the sham referendum pointed to such risks as the lack of personnel to work in “polling stations” and the pro-Ukrainian sentiment of local residents. They offered to promise “economic and social benefits” and promote the “inevitability of joining” the entire Kharkiv Oblast to Russia.
“Say yes to Russia” and “Russia is here forever” were the main slogans invented by the invaders for campaigning for the sham vote.
According to the journalists, the authors of the document also planned to promote the sham referendum under the guise of Orthodox Christian holidays, and were going to hold a “cross procession” on Sept. 21. Later, they were supposed to take place every day during the pseudo-referendum on Nov. 1-6.
The document also contains the “anthem” of the sham referendum with the words “Say yes to Russia. We’re one nation before God.”
Earlier the Meduza media outlet reported that against the backdrop of a rapid counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s entourage “doesn’t understand what to do next,” since it is impossible to hold sham referendums when the Russian army is either fleeing from previously captured areas, or is attempting to defend them.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops continue to liberate the settlements in eastern and southern Ukraine from the Russian invaders.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Sept. 14 reported that since Sept. 6 (in a week), Ukrainian defenders had liberated 388 settlements and about 8,500 square kilometers of Kharkiv Oblast.