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Ukraine’s Ombudsman: Ukrainian citizens forced to apply for Russian passports and vote in sham elections

Russia uses forced passportization to ensure voting in illegal elections in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
Putin-backed legislation will make official the status of Russian passports as an instrument of the country's military aggression and annexation strategy. (Credit: depositphotos)
Putin-backed legislation will make official the status of Russian passports as an instrument of the country’s military aggression and annexation strategy. (Credit: depositphotos)
Ukraine’s Ombudsman: Ukrainian citizens forced to apply for Russian passports and vote in sham elections

Russian-installed administrations in the occupied territories of Ukraine force Ukrainian citizens to apply for Russian citizenship, take Russian passports, and vote in sham elections, according to the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman), Dmytro Lubinets.

Russia organized sham elections for local occupation administrations on 8-10 September 2023 in the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts of Ukraine and in occupied Crimea.

Russian authorities in the occupied territories are restricting the rights of Ukrainian citizens who refused to apply for Russian passports and “have turned forced passportization into a tool” to ensure voting in illegal elections in the Russian-occupied territories, Dmytro Lubinets said.

“As for the so-called elections, I call this process a circus on barbed wire. Because it is just some kind of picture [for the world] to create conditions for the continuation of the so-called peace initiatives,” Lubinets said.

Lubinets told a story of a Ukrainian couple of elderly people living in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine, who were forced to take part in the Russian sham elections.

“The Russian military came to their home, with representatives of the so-called “election commission” standing next to them. When they came out, they were given two Russian passports with their photographs pasted in. I would like to emphasize once again that they had never applied for a Russian passport,” Lubinets said.

As soon as the Russians handed the Ukrainian couple their Russian passports, they were immediately told to vote. And one of the Russian soldiers immediately said: “You know who you are going to vote for,” Lubinets said. The soldier made sure that these people voted “correctly.”

According to the Ukrainian Ombudsman, a person living in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine “has virtually no rights without a Russian passport.”

“You cannot be employed [in the occupied territories without a Russian passport – ed.], you cannot leave, your property can be taken away from you and is being taken away, your business can be taken away,” Lubinets explained.

At the same time, after being forced to get a Russian passport, all Ukrainian men are immediately put on the military register in Russia and can be summoned to the Russian army, Lubinets said. This also applies to women who fall under the definition of a so-called military profession, especially a doctor, Lubinets added.

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