Russia Hires Actors Pretending to Be ‘Referendum’ Supporters in Occupied Ukrainian Cities: Report

Russian PR specialists and political strategists have arrived in Melitopol, Ukraine, amid a search for collaborators in the occupied city to support future pro-Russian movements, Ukrainian authorities said.

Working in a domestic foxtrot unit captured by Russian forces, these specialists and strategists have been tasked with preparing the city’s “referendum” and “elections,” according to a statement from the National Resistance Center (NRC), a program run by Russia is operated by the special forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Their first goal is reportedly to create a “we stand with Russia” movement, which NRC says paid background actors will support a referendum.

Referenda on joining Russia are due to be held in the occupied Ukrainian territories by September, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the strategy.

According to NRC, the “performance” in Melitopol is aimed at Russian citizens in order to reduce dissatisfaction with the war among the local population.

A recruitment center for collaborators is said to be operating in the occupied Ukrainian city of Berdyansk, NRC said.

According to NRC, Russian “volunteers” hire background actors while acting as extras themselves.

These volunteers are required to provide their passport details and will receive money and “humanitarian assistance” for their participation, the NRC said.

“This should help them survive the food crisis that the Russians themselves created,” the statement said.

Russia’s plans to annex Ukrainian territories — an attempt allegedly spearheaded by Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy chief of staff of Russia’s presidential administration — are reportedly focused on the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, as well as the southern Kherson regions and Zaporizhia.

Both Melitopol and Berdyansk are in Zaporizhia.

Officials are preparing to organize polls in areas currently controlled by the Russian military and any other troops that may be occupied in the coming weeks, according to Bloomberg.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby last week called Russia’s attempt to annex Ukrainian territories through “sham” referendums “illegal and illegitimate.”

Previous referendums in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk have been marked by voter fraud, pre-marked ballots and intimidation, The Washington Post reported.

For its part, the Russian government has publicly denied that it plans to hold any voting in occupied territories, even though officials on the ground are working on it.


In Berdyansk and Melitopol, Moscow is laying the groundwork for a future with Russia
In Berdyansk and Melitopol, Moscow is laying the groundwork for a future with Russia
Photo: AFP / Andrei BORODULIN

https://www.ibtimes.com.au/russia-hires-actors-pretend-be-referendum-supporters-occupied-ukraine-cities-report-1834983?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Russia Hires Actors Pretending to Be ‘Referendum’ Supporters in Occupied Ukrainian Cities: Report

Fry Electronics Team

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