Donbass, first day of referendum amid allegations of fraud and failed attacks

On the first day of the disputed referendum for the annexation of four regions of south-eastern Ukraine to Russia, about 20% of those entitled voted

  Voting begins in controversial Ukraine referendums Donbass, first day of referendum amid allegations of fraud and failed attacks

On the first day of the disputed referendum to annex four regions of south-eastern Ukraine to Russia, about 20% of those entitled to vote voted, with peaks of 24% in the secessionist republic of Donetsk. “I didn't see any violations, I even took pictures. There were people, they came and voted. In my opinion, it is all legitimate », said Eliseo Bertolasi, one of the 130 foreign observers invited by the local authorities to verify the validity of the vote.
With a doctorate in cultural anthropology at the Bicocca University of Milan, Bertolasi has been a correspondent for the Donbass of the Russian agency Sputnik since 2015, a megaphone for the propaganda of the Kremlin. «Voting close to home», the journalist said in the evening, «is especially convenient for women and the elderly, who can thus avoid risks. It is a question of security, because the Ukrainian army could try to bomb the polling stations to make the referendum fail. ' - video

Ukraine, referendums for annexation to Russia are underway - guard

A POWDER BOX - To reduce the risk of attacks, the ballot boxes will be carried from house to house until the last day of the event. The operation is led by armed patrols and this prompted Serhiy Gaidai, the businessman put by President Zelensky at the head of the Lugansk region, and then forced to flee the pro-Russian separatists, to talk about 'armed groups surrounding the houses to force people to participate '. In fact, yesterday at least one attack was foiled in the town of Melitopol - a hundred kilometers south of the Zaporižzhja nuclear power plant - where a Ukrainian drone was shot down, evidently launched in order to make the voting fail.

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ABSENT EUROPE - On the diplomatic front, the inconsistency of the European response stands out, with Brussels preparing to launch a new package of sanctions on the export of civil technology products to Russia and on individuals and entities involved in the referendums, while avoiding introducing caps on the price of oil imported from Moscow (Hungary is against). NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with CNN limited himself to speaking of 'serious consequences' if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But it is not clear what contribution, in terms of soldiers, means and resources, the countries of the Atlantic Alliance would be willing to make in the event of a Russian attack with tactical weapons.

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WHILE IN THE UNITED STATES - In the meantime, the first relaxing messages are being recorded from the White House. 'It is time for this war to end. And it is Putin who must do it, 'said the spokeswoman of President Biden, Karine Jean-Pierre last night at a press conference:' Putin could put an end to the war in Ukraine, even tomorrow, if he wanted to '. A new speech by the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergej Lavrov is expected today at the UN Security Council in New York, and then it will be the turn of his counterparts in China and India.

WHAT TO EXPECT NOW - Ukraine has meanwhile withdrawn the accreditation from the Iranian ambassador in Kiev, following the supply of military drones by Tehran to Moscow. While Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has made it known that he will not vote on a possible motion to limit the right of veto or expel Russia from the Security Council. 'For us it would be a catastrophe, of course for Kosovo,' he added, referring to what Belgrade considers a province of his own territory. 'What is the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which has been seriously violated and to which you have given international recognition and legitimacy,' Vucic had asked the day before yesterday , in his speech at the Glass Palace. He obviously received no answers.