The resistance of Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territories may disrupt a sham referendum in Kherson Oblast and Russia's plans to create a so-called "Kherson People's Republic" Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for Ukraine's Defense Ministry, told the Current Time television channel on April 30.
"Putin wants to demonstrate his success by May 9," the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry quoted Skibitsky as saying.
"He will do his best to hold a referendum by any means and say that the 'people of Kherson Oblast' have proclaimed the 'Kherson People's Republic' and want to join Russia. This will be presented as one of the victories of the Russian occupation forces on the territory of Ukraine. Zaporizhzhya and Odesa Oblasts may be the next steps."
The spokesman noted that this strategy, of holding sham referendum to ‘legitimize’ puppet authorities, is a strategy that the Russian dictator has used multiple times.
"The establishment of strict control over the territory by law enforcement agencies and the appointment of puppets to positions in local authorities, who will follow all the Kremlin's instructions, are the tactics of the occupying country in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine," Skibitsky added.
Earlier, Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed "governor" of Kherson Oblast, who is suspected of treason, said that the occupation authorities in Ukraine's southern Kherson Oblast would not now hold a "referendum" on the creation of the so-called "Kherson People's Republic."
On April 19, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry announced that the Russians were preparing sham referendums to "legalize" the occupation administrations in the temporarily occupied areas.
According to the intelligence, "bulletins," posters and other literature are being printed in the occupied territory of Kherson Oblast to encourage residents to vote in the "referendum."
The Russian edition of Latvian-based news website Medusa, citing sources in the Kremlin, said the "referendum" in Kherson Oblast might be held on May 14-15.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in response that the invaders were forcing locals to hand over personal data, in particular when receiving "humanitarian aid," in order to falsify the "referendum." At the same time, humanitarian aid from the Ukrainian side has been blocked or stolen.
The president emphasized that Ukraine would withdraw from negotiations with Russia if the invaders held sham referendums in the temporarily occupied territories, in particular in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya oblasts.
On April 28, the deputy chairman of Kherson Regional Council, Yuriy Sobolevsky, said that the Russian invaders in Kherson Oblast did not have enough people to organize and hold the sham referendum.