The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located in the Zaporizhia region, which is controlled by Russia since the first days of the invasion.
Authorities appointed by Moscow in the Zaporizhia region, partly occupied by the Russian army, have officially launched preparations for a referendum on the annexation of this region to Russia.
I have signed an order for the Central Election Commission to start working on the organization of a referendum on joining the Zaporizhia region to Russia, said Monday Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the #x27;civil and military administration set up in the territories of this southern region controlled by the Russians.
He made the remarks at a forum of a local pro-Russian movement called We Are Together with Russia in Melitopol, according to a video posted on Mr. Balitsky's official Telegram account.
< p class="e-p">The announcement was given a standing ovation by more than 700 participants.
In mid-July, Mr. Balitski announced that he wanted to organize a referendum as soon as beginning of autumn.
The launch of official preparations for the referendum comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that peace talks with Russia will be impossible if such referendums are held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.
A building damaged by gunfire near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
We are not the ones organizing the referendum, it is the inhabitants of these regions who have such plans, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov retorted on Monday.
” He [Zelensky, editor's note] needs to ask his citizens why many of them do not want to live in his country.
— Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman
From the start of the offensive against Ukraine on February 24, the army conquered a large part of two southern regions, those of Kherson and Zaporijia.
Since then, the authorities controlled by Moscow say they want to organize their attachment to Russia, even if officially the Kremlin has not publicly displayed this objective.
The occupation authorities also carry out an intense policy of Russification, introducing the ruble, taking control of the welfare, businesses, schools and pushing residents to take Russian passports.