A woman casts her ballot during voting in a so-called referendum on the joining of Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine to Russia, in a hospital in Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, 25 September 2022. EPA-EFE FILE/STRINGER

Final day of referendum voting begins in Russia-occupied Ukraine territories

Moscow, Sep 27 (EFE).- The final day of voting in referendums on joining Russia began Tuesday in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, state news agency TASS reported.

Polling stations opened at 8 am local time (05:00 GMT) and will close at 4 pm, after which the count will begin.

The referendums, to which Kyiv and the international community deny any legitimacy and are illegal under Ukrainian and international law, have taken place over five days in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions along the Russia border, which are occupied by Moscow’s troops.

For the first time since last Friday, voting is taking place at polling stations, since during the previous four days they were collected from people, a procedure that was argued would guarantee the security of the voters.

Mayor of Mariupol Konstantin Ivashchenko stands near armed servicemen as he speaks with members of the local election commission during voting in a referendum on the joining of Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine to Russia, at an outdoor polling station in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, 25 September 2022. EPA-EFE FILE/STRINGER

In Donetsk and Luhansk, 450 and 461 polling stations were opened respectively, according to TASS.

The pro-Russian authorities installed in the Zaporizhzhia region, of which the Russian army controls more than 70 percent, announced the opening of 349 polling stations, while Kherson, more than 90 percent occupied, reported 198.

Organizers have claimed the referendums are valid since, according to their data, more than 50 percent of the electoral census participated.

Moscow has already said that if the option to join Russia wins, which is likely due to the circumstances under which the referendums are being held, that it will not delay the annexation of the territories.

“I am convinced that it will happen quite quickly,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last Friday.

A Russian parliamentary source quoted by TASS noted that they may be formalized on Sep. 30. EFE