February 2, 2023

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Ukrainian officials say Russia is facing difficulties in holding a referendum on Wednesday morning in occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine says Russia intends to hold a vote in the region in an effort to gain public support for the establishment of a new entity called the Kherson People’s Republic, which is located in the Far East of Ukraine, around Donetsk and Luhansk. Will reflect such institutions, which were created eight. Several years ago.

Recognition of the two institutions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February was one of the key announcements in the days leading up to the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine two months ago.

But on Tuesday morning, Vadim Deninsenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, said pro-Russian officials were struggling to find enough people to vote in Kherson.

“They can’t even hold a mock referendum, as they did in Luhansk and Donetsk in 2014, because they realize they don’t have a large population. [to support them]Even just to get a picture for TV, “Denisenko said.” Besides, there are no people out there who would be willing to work at the polling stations. “

Two regional officials also told CNN that pro-Russian forces were finding it difficult to hold a planned referendum.

Yuri Sobolyowski, deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, told CNN that when voting took place in Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014 and in the referendum on Crimea’s independence that year, many local officials supported the pro-Russian move.

“It simply came to our notice then. [so they came under Russia‚Äôs influence]. It’s not like that here, “he said.

Another local official said the lack of support among regional councilors was hampering the preparation of eligible voter lists and ballot printing, but acknowledged that voting could still take place at some point.

“They will be able to maintain it theoretically, but it will take time to prepare,” said Halan Surhi, deputy head of Kherson City Council.

In another development in Kherson on Tuesday, Ukraine’s administrator for the region said Russian forces had formed a new local government.

Khirsan’s regional administrator, Hanadi Lahuta, made the announcement in a video posted on her social media accounts. The new government took office less than 24 hours after Russian forces took control of the Kherson City Council building, ousted the elected government and replaced its security with Russian troops.

According to Lahota, a meeting was held on Tuesday at the Kherson City Council building to “install the so-called ‘Kharson Regional Administration Mayor’ Vladimir Saldo and the ‘Kharson City Administration Head’ Alexander Kubits.”

The former mayor of Saldo, Kherson, has been accused of collaborating with the Russian KGB in the past but has never been charged. Under martial law, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has banned its party, the Block of Voldemir Salvo, over its alleged ties with Russia.

CNN reached out to Saldo for comment but received no response. CNN could not be reached for comment.

Russia’s new government in Kherson reflects a similar operation in another Russian-occupied city, Militia, in southern Ukraine. In the city, gunmen captured the elected mayor when Russian troops installed his own mayor, who immediately launched pro-Russian moves, such as forcing Russian television channels to broadcast.

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