Mayor Ivan Fedorov mentioned the final official route out of Melitopol to the territory managed by Ukraine had been closed, and that residents’ considerations had risen since voting started within the four-day referendum on Friday.
“Our residents are frightened, they’re panicking, they do not know what’s going to occur tomorrow, and when folks will begin being referred to as up (to Russia’s military),” he informed a information briefing through video hyperlink.
Melitopol, in southeastern Ukraine, was one of many first cities to fall after Russia’s invasion in February. It’s one among 4 areas to carry referendums that Kyiv says are a sham.
Fedorov mentioned he believed the principle motive for holding the referendums was to allow Moscow to conscript Ukrainians following Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s announcement of a partial mobilization final week.
“The voting takes place in entrance of assault rifles, (Russian) males with weapons,” Fedorov mentioned.
“Individuals are grabbed (by Russian troopers) proper on the road and compelled to vote, not just for themselves however for his or her entire households. Once they (the troopers) enter a rental home with the tenant inside, they make him vote for each particular person registered in that individual constructing.”
Fedorov mentioned that passage via the Vasylivka crossing, the one official solution to attain territory managed by Kyiv, had been closed to males aged 18-35 for 4 days and was utterly shut on Sunday.
Reuters was instantly unable to confirm the standing of the crossing or the state of affairs in Melitopol independently.
The referendums on changing into a part of Russia had been organised rapidly after Ukraine recaptured giant swathes of the northeast. Russia’s parliament might transfer to formalise the annexations inside days.