Russian authorities are holding local elections this weekend in occupied parts of Ukraine in an effort to tighten their grip on territories Moscow illegally annexed a year ago and still does not fully control.
The voting for Russian-installed legislatures in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions has already begun and concludes Sunday. It has been denounced by Kyiv and the West.
“It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, which Russia continues to disregard,” the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, said this week.
Kyiv echoed that sentiment, with the parliament saying in a statement that the balloting in areas where Russia “conducts active hostilities” poses a threat to Ukrainian lives. Ukrainian officials have urged other countries not to recognize the results of the vote, which the Foreign Ministry called “fake elections.”