Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of planning to “falsify” an independence referendum in the partly occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
In a video message Thursday evening April 21, Zelensky urged residents of areas under occupation to not provide any personal information, like their passport numbers, to the Russian forces.
The Ukrainian leader said, “This is not to help you… This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show.”
“This is the reality. Be careful.”
The warning came after Mariupol’s mayor accused Russia of hiding evidence of its “barbaric” war crimes by burying the bodies of up to 9,000 civilians in a new mass grave, allegations backed up by satellite images from US company Maxar.
Mayor Vadym Boichenko estimated that more than 20,000 residents had been killed there, while about 100,000 people remained in Russian-occupied areas in the city. Another 100,000 had successfully escaped, mostly in private cars, while 40,000 had been forcibly deported to Russia. Others were being held in Russian “filtration camps” outside the city, he said.