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UK intelligence: Russia aims to russify illegally annexed regions via sham elections in September.
Russia plans to hold sham regional “elections” in illegally “annexed” occupied territories of Ukraine on Sept. 10, according to Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper house.
The sham votes, which are expected to take place on the same day as elections in Russian regions, show the Kremlin’s ambition to present the areas as integral parts of Russia, even though Russian forces don’t control a major part of the annexed areas, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in an update on Feb. 6.
This announcement follows efforts to russify the occupied areas, which include revision of the education, communication, and transport systems, the report read.
Russian leaders will likely argue that the staged elections further justify the occupation as they did with the sham referendum in Crimea in 2014, the ministry said.
Real democratic choices are no longer available to voters at even regional level elections in Russia, where votes are rigged in favor of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, according to the ministry.
Russia illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.
It also claimed to annex Ukraine's Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts in September 2022 after sham referendums. Russian troops do not have full control of these regions, and two regional capitals - Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - are under Ukrainian control.