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The Council of Europe issued a statement on Sept. 10 denouncing the sham "elections" that Russia held in the occupied parts of Ukraine.
"We strongly condemn the illegitimate sham 'elections' that took place on September 8-10 2023 in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation," read the statement.
The statement was signed by the President of the Council's Committee of Ministers and Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, President of the Parliamentary Assembly Tiny Kox, and Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric.
"Held in flagrant violation of international law, they constitute a further illustration of the denial by the Russian Federation of the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law upheld by the Council of Europe," the statement said.
The Council noted that the sham vote was only the latest in a series of illegal and harmful steps that Moscow has taken since it was expelled from the organization. Moscow withdrew from the Council last year after the international body decided to terminate Russia's membership due to its full-scale war against Ukraine.
As the authors of the declaration stressed, the sham elections should be considered null and void under international law.
Russia held illegal elections in the occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts after it announced their "annexation" following a sham referendum in September 2022.
The vote was accompanied by violent incidents, such as a partisan attack against Russian soldiers protecting the polling stations or the destruction of the headquarters of Russia's governing party United Russia.
Western leaders and Kyiv have denounced the vote held on Ukraine's territory as a violation of international law. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented that Ottawa will not recognize the sham elections nor Vladimir Putin's attempt to "redraw the map as he pleases."