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    Decided on 20% // Electoral commissions of Donbass and southern regions of Ukraine reported a high turnout for the referendum

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    In the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR), as well as in the Russian-controlled military units of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine, a five-day referendum on joining Russia started Friday morning. At the same time, voting began in 84 regions of Russia. Voter turnout by the end of the first day averaged 20%, and almost a quarter of voters voted in the DPR. Many of those who came to polling stations in Russia did not want to communicate with journalists, but those who agreed did not hide their positive emotions from the long-awaited event.

    According to the results of the first day voting average voter turnout was about 20%. In the Kherson region, by Friday evening, 15.31% voted, in the Zaporozhye region – 20.52% (including voting outside the region), in the LPR – 21.97%, in the DPR – 23.64%.

    At 8:00 am local time, voting began in 84 regions of Russia, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation announced on its Telegram channel. The commission also published the phone numbers of regional call centers, where you can find the addresses of the nearest polling stations. And the number of operators of a single call center, as noted by the CEC, had to be quadrupled already in the middle of the day on Friday. “During the first days of work, the load on the call center of foreign election commissions for the referendum was so high that the operators could not cope with the flow of calls and the waiting time for a connection with a specialist reached several minutes. To talk about the fact that they are allegedly trying to drive the referendum participants to the polling stations … ”the message on the CEC Telegram channel says. For example, in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, queues formed at polling stations during the first hours of voting, and by mid-Friday, the regional election commission called the flow of voters “endless.”

    But in the Perm Territory on Friday morning it became known that the sites will work all five days. As a source familiar with the referendum explained, the opening hours were changed “at the request of the voters.”

    Some regions immediately announced that polling stations would work all five days, and Moscow is one of them. More than 15 polling stations have been opened in the capital. A Kommersant correspondent visited one of them, located in the DPR embassy in Grokholsky Lane, where residents of all four territories can cast their vote. There were many people who wanted to vote on the first day, but not everyone agreed to communicate with journalists. And those who took the risk preferred to give only their names, although there was no one among them who would speak out against joining the Russian Federation. back and built a family here, but she never changed her passport to a Russian one. “I love Russia. I am for (the entry of Zaporozhye into its composition. – Kommersant), because that same Ukraine has long been gone. My mother lives there, there are meager pensions, ”she shared. Another woman named Alena moved to Moscow from the Zaporozhye region in 2014, and came to the referendum with her husband: “We are in a festive mood, right up to goosebumps. So tell everyone!” “We have been waiting for this for a very long time, really. You can’t sit at home on a day like this, you have to go vote,” said Olga, a resident of Donetsk, who moved to the Russian capital a year ago, to share her emotions. Finally, thirty-year-old Dmitry from Avdiivka, Donetsk region, was caught up in the news about the referendum during a short visit to Moscow for his mother’s birthday. Both he and his acquaintances in Donetsk, according to him, are very pleased with the decision to join Russia. “Of course, there is also irritation from eight years of constant shelling, and that this decision was made when everyone was already completely unbearable. But all the same, we are very happy,” Dmitry admits. Members of electoral committees in other regions were also reluctant to make contact. For example, in Chuvashia, the organizers of the vote did not want to disclose their names to Kommersant, and the director of the Vega center (the polling stations were located in its building) Sergei Galkin said that he was not authorized to say anything during the voting. They did not want to comment on the course of the referendum in the electoral commissions of the Perm Territory and the Rostov Region. At the same time, throughout Friday, small videos and photographs from polling stations of the referendum or from the door-to-door tour of voters were regularly published in the Telegram channels of the CEC and regional commissions.

    There are about 1 thousand of them in the DPR, including, according to information Public Chamber of the DPR, 129 foreigners from Russia, Venezuela, Italy, Romania, Togo and South Africa. About 50 international observers work in the LPR, including those from the Netherlands and Germany. Representatives of “different countries of Europe, Africa and South America” ​​are present in the Zaporozhye region, said Galina Katyushchenko, head of the region’s election commission. And in the Kherson region, according to the local election commission, observers from the United States and France are monitoring the referendum.

    There are representatives of Russian parliamentary parties among the observers. So, from the LDPR faction, four deputies went to the referendum at once, and from A Just Russia – For Truth, activists of the headquarters of the co-chairman of the party, Zakhar Prilepin, are monitoring. Yevgeny Nikolaev, an activist at the headquarters in the Kherson region, told Kommersant that he did not see much excitement: “Yes, people come and vote, but there are no queues. The maximum queue I observed was 12 people.” At the same time, everything went smoothly, the activist added: “There is no special shooting, only the noise of air defense in the distance.” The head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Alexander Khinshtein, who is in the DPR, highly appreciated the organization of the voting. “I saw with my own eyes how this process goes: the procedure is legitimate and open, transparent ballot boxes, nothing can be replaced,” the deputy stated at a briefing for journalists.

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