0709 GMT September 26, 2022
The votes are being held in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, according to AP.
The referendum votes follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization of reservists, which could add about 300,000 Russian troops to the fight. The balloting will continue for five days through Tuesday.
The referendums ask residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia.
Election officials have brought ballots to people’s homes and have set up makeshift polling stations near residential buildings during the first four days of the referendums, according to Russian-installed officials in the occupied regions, who cited safety reasons. Tuesday will be the only day when the voters will be invited to come to regular polls.
Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from the regions can cast their votes.
Denis Pushilin, separatist leader of Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region, called the referendum on Friday “a historical milestone.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy only briefly mentioned the “sham referenda” in his nightly address in which he switched from speaking in Ukrainian to Russian to directly tell Russian citizens they are being “thrown to their deaths.”