Tuesday, 27 September 2022 – Ukrainians who help Russia in its referendums to annex large swathes of Ukraine will face treason charges and at least five years in jail, Ukraine’s presidential adviser said, as voting in four regions entered its last day.
Moscow hopes to annex the provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, in the east and south, which make up about 15 percent of Ukraine.
None of the provinces are fully under Moscow’s control and fighting has been under way along the entire front line, with Ukrainian forces reporting more advances since they routed Russian troops in a fifth province, Kharkiv, earlier this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian soil, which would include the four provinces if annexed.
Voting on whether to join Russia began on Friday in the regions and is due to end on Tuesday, with the Russian parliament possibly approving the annexation within days.
Now the Ukranian government says it’ll punish Ukranians collaborating with the Russians
“We have lists of names of people who have been involved in some way,” presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick.
“We are talking about hundreds of collaborators. They will be prosecuted for treason. They face prison sentences of at least five years.”
Podolyak said Ukrainians who were forced to vote would not be punished. Ukrainians officials have reported ballot boxes being taken door to door and residents being coerced into voting in front of Russian-backed security.
Kyiv and the West have dismissed the referendums as a sham and pledged not to recognise the results.