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Moscow-installed proxies in the occupied territories of Kherson Oblast are preparing to participate in the so-called local elections, which Russia plans to hold this fall, spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Command Vladyslav Nazarov said on April 2.
According to Nazarov, three Russian parties, namely United Russia, the Communist Party (CPRF), and the Liberal Democratic party (LDPR), have registered their regional branches with legal addresses in the Ukrainian cities of Henichesk and Melitopol — the "capitals" of the occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
Nazarov added that the heads of several newly created branches of the parties had been sent to the occupied cities from Russia and the occupied Crimean peninsula. "Either there were not enough local collaborators for them, or they are not trusted," he explained.
Russia declared the "annexation" of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts in late September, after Russia's proxies held sham referendums in the occupied parts of these regions and claimed that 87% to 99% of the participants "voted" to join Russia, depending on the region.
Russia also continued to consider Kherson part of its territory, despite the withdrawal of its troops from the city along with other areas on the west bank of the Dnipro River in November. Russian forces were pushed to the river's east bank.
In December last year, the Kremlin's spokesman Peskov acknowledged for the first time that Moscow's current territorial objective was to seize the whole territory of the four partially occupied Ukrainian oblasts, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Russian troops captured parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February last year. Ukraine's eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk have been occupied by Russia since 2014.