Putin ‘surprised’ by referendum results

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Outcome of the votes in Donbass and in Kherson and Zaporozhye regions is ‘conclusive and absolutely transparent,’ president said

Vladimir Putin has said that the level of support for joining Russia seen in referendums in Donbass, and the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye has surpassed his own expectations. He also praised people who defied security risks during the voting. 

“Frankly speaking, I was not just happy, but surprised with the results of the referendums,” Putin said, during a video-conference with the winners of Russia’s Best Teachers contest on Wednesday.

“The people were living and are still living in such difficult conditions, yet the result was [self-evident],” he added.

The referendums in the four territories were staged between September 23 and 27, with the people overwhelmingly supporting becoming part of Russia. In Donetsk, the move was backed by 99.23% of those who came to the polls, with Lugansk showing a slightly lower figure of 98.42%. As for Zaporozhye Region, 93.11% cast their vote in favor of splitting from Ukraine and joining Russia there, with the result in Kherson Region being 87.05%.

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“I assure you and I think that the observers could also see this: there was no desire to clean up or add anything” when it came to the counting of the votes, Putin said. 

“We’ve decided and I’ve decided for myself: it’s going to be how the people say. And the results are more than convincing and absolutely transparent, beyond any doubt,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin signed into law four unification treaties with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, officially making them part of Russia. The agreements, which had been signed on Friday, were endorsed by both the lower and the upper houses of the Russian parliament earlier this week.

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