A Facebook user, Gigo Rioneli Kartveli, made a publication in regard to Russia’s illegal referendums in four Ukrainian regions with a view to their annexation. This publication was reposted by the anti-Western Georgian political party – Georgian Idea – on its own Facebook page. Since the publication is very extensive and not all of the facts that it contains are subject to verification, this article reviews the details about the referendums.

“The President of Georgia says fake referendum. We all know what Russia is and what the West is, at the same time… Illegal referendum, spectacle in the Kremlin, fake referendum, flagrant violation of international law, etc…

Here is the question for the Madame President, European leaders and those people from the UNM and the GD who love Ukraine more than their own homeland: It was not me who sent international observers for the referendums. Did I? No, I have no doubt in my own ability but that would be too much (ironical smile). I was physically unable to do so, right? At least, because I would not be a foal rushing ahead of its own mother! You are a mother of Georgia, are you not?! So, explain this to our President as well as UNM and GD people that your statements and the President’s statements have nothing to do with logic vis-à-vis the fact which you recognised by your own action (sending observers to the Ukrainian so-called Russian-occupied territory). What did Europe say: ‘Everything went smoothly and we did not expect that.’ Yes, they were not expecting that the referendum would be conducted smoothly and instead they expected that Ukraine would succeed in organising sabotage… Unfortunately, Ukraine together with Europe, failed to do so: There are ample reasons why that happened!... In short, the referendum was recognised by international observers and so what are babbling about from the TV screens?”

In fact, those so-called “referendums” which Russia staged in the occupied regions for their illegal annexation are not even remotely legitimate.

Russia conducted the so-called “referendums” in four Ukrainian regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. However, Russia does not control fully these regions. Therefore, in this case the entire population could not have been able to express their views and the referendum would not have any legitimacy.

In addition, these regions constitute a zone of ongoing armed conflict and holding a referendum there is absolutely incompatible with a fundamental principle of elections, stipulating everyone should be able to vote, because movement to vote during hostilities is unsafe and, therefore, people may refrain from voting or they simply cannot vote at all.

These regions where the so-called “referendums” were held are conflict zones and most of the population has already abandoned the area. According to the information of the International Organization for Migration released as early as 10 May 2022, there are eight million internally displaced persons in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion. As of July, the number of registered refugees from Ukraine to Europe alone is over six million and in that period there were nearly ten million cases of border crossings from Ukraine. Apart from Europe, Ukrainians have gone to other countries as refugees. For instance, there were over 150,000 Ukrainian refuges in the USA as of August 2022. It is logical that when most of the population has been exiled from these regions because of Russia’s war, it is absurd to speak about the legitimacy of referendums there because they do not express the will of the people.

In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also illegitimate because it blatantly violates the fundamental principles of international law such as inadmissibility of the use of force or the threat of the use of force as well as the inviolability of territorial integrity. According to international law, the occupation of the Ukrainian territories by Russia and its effective control over these territories are also illegal. Therefore, legally speaking, Russia had no right to conduct referendums on Ukraine’s territory. In regard to the legitimacy of the puppet regimes installed and underpinned by Moscow, they are not recognised by the absolute majority of the UN member states and are territory viewed as part of Ukraine. Therefore, holding referendums under those puppet regimes is entirely illegitimate. Of note is that Russia itself recognised the “independence” of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia districts on 30 September 2022 only after the illegal “referendums.”

The “referendums” were recognised as illegitimate and were condemned by the international community and the civilised world, including the EU (the author of the aforementioned piece of disinformation was referring to Europe) and the leadership of the OSCE which usually sends major observation missions to monitor elections in Europe. Georgia also did not recognise the legitimacy of the referendums and condemned them as unlawful – see the statements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the President of Georgia on this matter.

In regard to the “smooth conduct” of the “referendums,” of note is that Russian troops campaigned door-to-door to collect “votes” from the population. Naturally, there is no legitimacy or lawfulness when occupying forces hold a referendum with troops knocking on doors and people having to “vote” at gunpoint.

Georgia has also not sent any observers for the “referendums.”. Moscow brought loyal people of different nationalities as the so-called “observers,” although they were not official observers sent by their countries and did not meet the criteria of observer according to the assessments of experts. For instance, there was the infamous case of a German energy executive, Stefan Schnaller, attending the “referendums” as an observer but then was removed from his position in Germany.

As reported by Kyiv, the countries whose observers attended the illegal referendums are as follows: Brazil, Belarus, Syria, Egypt, Venezuela, Uruguay, Togo and South Africa. However, the governments of Brazil and Uruguay denied sending official observers or representatives to the “referendums.”

Therefore, the claims in the aforementioned publication about legitimacy or the recognition of the “referendums” or sending international observers is fake news.


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