“Rituals with known results”.Behind the scenes of the Kremlin’s fake referendum

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Polling stations under construction in Donetsk. September 22, 2022

September 23, President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization Following the announcement, Russia launched a four-day “referendum” that it plans to use as a step to annex the occupied territories of Ukraine. Medusa has spoken to numerous sources close to the Putin administration, the Moscow government and the Kremlin about the “results” they plan to announce, the logistics of the entire production and what they hope to achieve. Russian officials have already given up hope that a “vote” will boost domestic support for the war.They know people are too Concerned On mobilization to care.

saw on september 23rd start “Referendum on accession to the Russian Federation” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as well as in the territories of Kherson and Zaporizhia occupied by Ukraine. The “voting” will continue until September 27th.

As Meduza previously reported, the “referendum” delayed Russia’s repeated defeats on the battlefield prompted the Kremlin to indefinitely suspend its “referendum” plans after Ukrainian forces successfully counterattacked in the Kharkov area in early September. But just days later, communist officials in the occupied territories began publicly demanding that the “vote” be held immediately.

Medusa sources say the decision to go ahead with a “referendum” is a result of high-ranking security officials supporting further escalation that Russia must hold “votes” in occupied territories and announce mobilizations at home. after convincing President Vladimir Putin of as soon as.

Additionally, two sources close to Putin’s regime told Medusa that the Kremlin’s domestic policy department, including First Deputy Chief of General Staff Sergey Kiriyenko, will participate in preparations for a “referendum” on the ground in Ukraine. was effectively forbidden to do so. Sources say that responsibility for the “voting” lies with the local occupation authorities and intelligence agencies in the occupied territories.


“Of course, the Russian officials who traveled to Donbass are participating. [Russian] However, their work is limited.However, the desired number is still reported [as official results]said one of the sources.

According to sources close to the leadership of the ruling United Russia Party and sources close to Putin’s government, the political circles of the Moscow city government were also involved in the preparations for the “referendum.” Initially, the regime appeared to be on board to help organize electronic voting in the occupied territories, but the Kremlin ultimately decided not to let people vote that way. I ended up working as a “consultant” for the “referendum” organizers of the local electoral commission.

Voting in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic

According to a source close to the Kremlin, Moscow officials work on the ground in Donbass as well as as remote advisers. It was organized by Yulia Mariasova, Deputy Director General of the Moscow Territorial Authority, who worked with political consultants in the preparation of parliamentary elections. But another source close to the city leader denied the allegations, saying, “Everyone is running around like chickens with their heads chopped off, but nobody’s really going there. They is assisting remotely.” The Moscow government did not respond to Medusa’s request for comment.

In general, according to Medusa sources, the “referendum” in the occupied Ukrainian territories is very similar to the one Russia conducted before its annexation of Crimea in 2014. On the first day of the “voting”, occupation authorities will open a small number of polling stations. “Mobilize” residents in favor of annexation. According to sources, this allows Russian propaganda his outlets to circulate photos of long queues of people waiting to vote, suggesting a high voter turnout. Already published in state media.

People waiting for “votes” in the “referendum” of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic. September 23, 2022

Two sources close to the Kremlin told Medusa that Russian officials planned to “ensure” that the referendum would result in:

  • In “DNR” and “LNR”: approx. 90 percent Number of voters in favor of annexation, voter turnout 90 percent
  • In the occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhia regions: approx. 90 percent Number of voters in favor of annexation, voter turnout 80 percent

On September 23, the government-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) found that 87% of respondents to the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ planned to participate in the ‘referendum’, while 97% planned to We announced the “survey results” showing. Vote for the annexation of Russia. According to VTsIOM, in the Kherson region, 69% of respondents said they planned to go to the polls, and 89% said they planned to vote for Russia’s annexation. In the Zaporizhia region, 80% of respondents are said to be voting in a “referendum” and 87% are in favor of annexation.

Mobile ballot box in Donetsk
Electoral officer and lives in Donetsk. September 23, 2022
“Voting” in Kherson. The city has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.

A source close to Putin’s government told Medusa that the “findings” had been released as part of an effort to prepare Russian society for the official outcome of the “referendum.”

Two sources close to the Kremlin called the “referendum” a “ritual with a known outcome”, adding that Putin’s government was already planning to hold “elections” for local government bodies in the occupied territories. According to sources, Russian officials do not anticipate protests from the local population of the occupied territories, but have not ruled out the possibility that Ukrainian forces will continue to counterattack.

One of the sources also said the Kremlin did not expect annexation to increase domestic support for the Russian authorities. People are worried about mobilization now. ”

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