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Russian-backed referendum in Kherson begins

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Russian-backed referendum in Kherson begins

A Russian-backed referendum in Kherson begins. Photo: AP Photo/Olexandr Chornyi

Russia is expected to hold a referendum in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson today.

The referendum mirrors those held in Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014 and offers the opportunity to transform the territory into a pro-Moscow “people’s republic.” Similarly, in 2014 the Russians held a referendum offering Crimea the option to be annexed. The results—regarded in the West as falsified—saw 97% of voters support a union with Russia.

While Kherson’s eponymous capital largely avoided the destruction seen in other Ukrainian cities like Mariupol, the city still faces shortages of medicine, food and other goods. Dwindling regional supplies of Ukraine’s hryvnia currency continue amid the announcement by Russia’s TASS news agency that Kherson will transition to the Russian ruble over the next four to five months.

Expect today’s referendum in Kherson to parallel those of Donetsk and Luhansk, showing alleged widespread support for independence from Ukraine. Yet, Kherson has been notable for its continued resistance to Russian occupation, both in the forms of public protest and, increasingly, violence. While the creation of a “people’s republic” will likely only further antagonize the region’s pro-Kyiv residents, it also demonstrates Russia’s determination to secure visible triumphs from the war. Expect similar referendums in other regions—like Kharkiv—should they fall to Russia.

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