Kremlin stages votes in Ukraine, sees protests in Russia

Sep 23, 2022, 12:58 PM | Updated: Sep 24, 2022, 4:16 pm
Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland,...

Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

(Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade, Ukrainian military officer Volodumur Linsky, who was killed in a battle against Russian troops, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian policemen detain a demonstrator protesting against mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.  (AP Photo)
            
              Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A woman from Donetsk region, the territory controlled by a pro-Russia separatist governments who lives in Russia votes at temporary accommodation facility in Krasnodar, Russia, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from regions under Russian control can cast their votes. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade, Ukrainian military officer Volodumur Linsky, who was killed in a battle against Russian troops, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)
            
              Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A woman from Donetsk region, the territory controlled by a pro-Russia separatist governments who lives in Russia votes at temporary accommodation facility in Krasnodar, Russia, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from regions under Russian control can cast their votes. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian policemen detain a demonstrator protesting against mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian policemen detain a demonstrator protesting against mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.  (AP Photo)
            
              A cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade, Ukrainian military officer Volodumur Linsky, who was killed in a battle against Russian troops, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              A cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade, Ukrainian military officer Volodumur Linsky, who was killed in a battle against Russian troops, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              A cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              A cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              A cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              A Russian recruit and his wife kiss and hug each other outside a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A Russian officer checks the temperature of recruits as they lineup to be registered at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits sit inside a bus near a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              A relative attends a mourning ceremony for Alexei Nogin, who was killed in combat in Ukraine, in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Nogin was posthumously awarded with the Hero of Russia medal for fighting in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Residents of Mariupol hold a rally against a Kremlin-orchestrated referendum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Banner reads: "Mariupol is Ukraine". Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              A Russian Orthodox priest blesses a group of recruits at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo)
            
              Two men pose for a photo in front of motorcade organized to support voting in a referendum in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. (AP Photo)
            
              A group of young Russians walk after they crossed the border crossing Verkhny Lars between Georgia and Russia on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Long lines of vehicles have formed at a border crossing between Russia's North Ossetia region and Georgia after Moscow announced a partial military mobilization. A day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization to bolster his troops in Ukraine, many Russians are leaving their homes. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
            
              Ukrainian soldiers fire in the recently retaken city of Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged missile and artillery barrages on Thursday as both sides refused to concede ground despite recent military setbacks for Moscow and the toll on the invaded country after almost seven months of war. (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)
            
              EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - The body of a civilian lies on the ground during an exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
            
              Ukrainian soldiers fire in the recently retaken city of Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged missile and artillery barrages on Thursday as both sides refused to concede ground despite recent military setbacks for Moscow and the toll on the invaded country after almost seven months of war. (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)
            
              Destroyed houses are seen in the retaken village of Bohorodychne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
            
              Ukrainian soldiers fire in the recently retaken Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged missile and artillery barrages on Thursday as both sides refused to concede ground despite recent military setbacks for Moscow and the toll on the invaded country after seven months of war. (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces launched new strikes on Ukrainian cities Saturday as Kremlin-orchestrated votes took place in four occupied regions to create a pretext for their annexation by Moscow.

In cities across Russia, police arrested hundreds of people who tried to protest a mobilization order aimed at beefing up the country’s troops in Ukraine. Other Russians reported for duty, while the foreign minister told the U.N. General Assembly his country had “no choice” but to take military action against its neighbor.

Ukraine’s presidential office said the latest Russian shelling killed at least three people and wounded 19. Oleksandr Starukh, the Ukrainian governor of Zaporizhzhia, one of the regions where Moscow-installed officials organized referendums on joining Russia, said a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the regional capital, killing one person and injuring seven others.

Ukraine and its Western allies say the referendums underway in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south and the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions have no legal force. They alleged the votes were an illegitimate attempt by Moscow to seize Ukrainian territory stretching from the Russian border to the Crimean Peninsula.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said the voting “looked more like an opinion survey under the gun barrels,” adding that Moscow-backed local authorities sent armed escorts to accompany election officials and to take down the names of individuals who voted against joining Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians in occupied regions to undermine the referendums and to share information about the people conducting “this farce.” He also called on Russian recruits to sabotage and desert the military if they are called up under the partial troop mobilization President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday.

“If you get into the Russian army, sabotage any activity of the enemy, hinder any Russian operations, provide us with any important information about the occupiers – their bases, headquarters, warehouses with ammunition,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin on Saturday signed a hastily approved bill that toughens the punishment for soldiers who disobey officers’ orders, desert or surrender to the enemy.

To carry out the referendums that started Friday, election officials accompanied by police officers carried ballots to homes and set up mobile polling stations, citing safety reasons. The votes are set to wrap up Tuesday.

“Half of the population fled the Donetsk region because of Russian terror and constant shelling, voting against Russia with their feet, and the second half has been cheated and scared,” Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

In the Ukrainian capital, about 100 people from the Russia-occupied city of Mariupol, which is part of the Donetsk region, gathered to protest the referendum, covering themselves in Ukrainian flags and carrying posters “Mariupol is Ukraine.”

“They ruined the city, killed thousands of people, and now they are doing some kind of profanation over there,” said Vladyslav Kildishov who helped organize the rally.

Elina Sytkova, 21, a demonstrator who has many relatives left in Mariupol even though the city spent months under bombardment, said the vote was “an illusion of choice when there isn’t any.”

It’s “like a joke, because it’s the same as it was in Crimea, meaning it’s fake and not real,” she said, referring to a 2014 referendum that took place in Crimea before Moscow annexed the peninsula in a move that most of the world considered illegal.

The mobilization ordered by Putin marked a sharp shift from his effort to cast the seven-month war as a “special military operation” that doesn’t interfere with the lives of most Russians.

Russian police moved quickly to break up demonstrations against the mobilization that were held in several cities across Russia on Saturday, arresting over 700 people. More than 1,300 protesters were arrested during a previous wave of protests on Wednesday, and many of them immediately received call-up summons.

The Russian leader and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the order applied to reservists who had recently served or had special skills, but almost every man is considered a reservist until age 65 and Putin’s decree kept the door open for a broader call-up.

The Russian Ministry said that the partial mobilization initially aimed to add about 300,000 troops to beef up its outnumbered volunteer forces in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government stopped allowing most men ages 18-60 to leave the country immediately after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion under a general mobilization order intended to build a 1 million-strong military.

Across Russia’s 11 time zones, men hugged their weeping family members before being rounded up for service amid fears that a wider call-up might follow. Some media reports claimed Russian authorities planned to mobilize more than 1 million recruits, which the Kremlin denied.

Moving to assuage public fears over the call-up that could erode Putin’s grip on power, authorities announced that many Russians working in high tech, communications or finance would be exempt.

After some of the pilots of the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot and other airlines reportedly received call-up notices, pilots and traffic controllers unions moved quickly to secure a government promise that they, too, would be excluded from the mobilization.

Many Russian men bought up scarce and exorbitantly priced airline tickets out of the country as as rumors swirled about a pending border closure. Thousands others fled by car, creating lines of traffic hours or even days long at some borders. The massive exodus underlined the unpopularity of the war and fueled public outrage.

In a sign the Kremlin was starting to worry about a backlash, the head of a top state-controlled TV station harshly criticized military authorities for hastily sweeping up random people to meet mobilization targets instead of calling up people with specific skills and recent military service, as Putin promised.

RT chief Margarita Simonyan lashed out at military conscription offices for “driving people mad” by rounding up those who weren’t supposed to be drafted. “It’s as if they were tasked by Kyiv to do that,” she said.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya who sent his forces to fight in Ukraine and repeatedly called for tougher action, suggested that Moscow should more broadly engage personnel from law-enforcement agencies in the fighting.

He denounced those fleeing the mobilization as cowards and argued that police and various paramilitary agencies that number a total of 5 million personnel together with the military would make a much better-trained and motivated fighting force.

“If we leave 50 percent of the personnel to fulfil their duties, 2.5 million others will blow any Western army away and we won’t need any reservists,” Kadyrov said.

Putin’s mobilization order followed a swift Ukrainian counteroffensive that forced Moscow’s retreat from broad swaths of the northeastern Kharkiv region, a humiliating defeat that highlighted blunders in Moscow’s military planning.

The Defense Ministry on Saturday announced the dismissal of Gen. Dmitry Bulgakov from the post of deputy defense minister in charge of logistics. It didn’t mention the cause for his ouster, but the move was widely seen as a punishment for the flaws in supporting operations in Ukraine.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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FILE - In this photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Chinese troops line up...
Associated Press

Japan aims to boost 5-year defense spending to $318 billion

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday set a new target for military spending over the next five years to 43 trillion yen ($318 billion), or 1.5 times the current level, as the country seeks defense buildup including the use of preemptive strike. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Kishida told him and […]
1 day ago
FILE An oil tanker is moored at the Sheskharis complex, part of Chernomortransneft JSC, a subsidiar...
Associated Press

Russian oil price cap, EU ban aim to limit Kremlin war chest

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Oil prices rose Monday as the first strong measures to limit Russia’s oil profits over the war in Ukraine took effect, bringing with them uncertainty about how much crude could be lost to the global economy through the new sanctions or Russian retaliation. International benchmark Brent crude rose 2% to $87.30 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Liz Weston: Make the most of new rules for charitable giving

Most people no longer get a tax deduction when they donate to charity. That shouldn’t keep you from making donations, but you may want to change your approach. Typically, only taxpayers who itemize deductions can write off charitable contributions. The vast majority of taxpayers instead take the standard deduction, which was nearly doubled by the […]
1 day ago
FILE - A French artillery piece Caesar is displayed at the Eurosatory land and airland defense and ...
Associated Press

Report: Ukraine war ups arms sales but challenges lie ahead

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Global arms sales increased by nearly 2% in 2021, the seventh consecutive year of increases, an international arms sales watchdog noted Monday. It added that the war in Ukraine had increased demand for weapons this year, but the conflict may also lead to a supply challenge, not least because Russia is a […]
1 day ago
In this photo provided by Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar's Twitter handle, Jaishankar and Ge...
Associated Press

India signals it will continue to buy oil from Russia

NEW DELHI (AP) — India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia, its foreign minister signaled Monday, as Western governments press Moscow with a price cap to squeeze its earnings from oil exports. Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the comments after holding talks with his visiting German […]
1 day ago
Rescue workers search the waters of the Jukskei river in Johannesburg, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. At lea...
Associated Press

Search for Johannesburg worshippers swept by flood; 14 dead

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The death toll from the tragic flash flood that swept away members of a church congregation along the Jukskei River in Johannesburg has risen from nine to 14, officials have confirmed. Rescue teams on Monday resumed search operations for at least three people still missing. Twelve bodies were recovered on Sunday in […]
1 day ago

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