Kiev threatens pro-Russia Ukrainians with jail terms
Ukrainian citizens risk criminal prosecution and a jail time of up to 12 years if they participate in referendums on joining Russia, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk warned on Saturday.
“There are not and will not be any referendums on our Ukrainian land,” Vereshchuk stated during a national broadcast.
Pro-Russian authorities in the Zaporozhye, Kharkov and Kherson Regions, as well the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, previously spoke of potentially holding referendums on uniting with Russia, but so far no dates have been set.
“It's all a farce and a circus. But for our citizens who will take part in this, there is actually an article of the Criminal Code,” Kiev’s deputy prime minister said.
"If collaboration is proven, or, for example, participation in the referendum or incitement to participate in the referendum, then people can receive up to 12 years with confiscation (of assets)," she warned.
Vereshchuk urged Ukrainians who remain in Russia-controlled territories to evacuate or avoid voting in any plebiscites, as “no pressure, no violent incitement, etc., can later justify the fact that a person went to the referendum.”
When asked, how many people potentially might take part in voting, Vereshchuk claimed the percentage is “tiny… not even 2%.”
Commenting on the Ukrainian official’s statements, Grigory Karasin, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, wrote on Telegram: “That's democracy in Kiev! It is strange that their citizens are not threatened with execution!”
The Ukrainian government previously warned that citizens who attempt to become Russian citizens could be punished with up to 15 years in prison.