CivilMPlus platform statement on Russia holding so-called “referendums” in the occupied territories of Ukraine


Since September 23, 2022, Russia has been holding fictitious “referendums” on joining Russia in the parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine seized by Russian troops. In the same territories, the forced mobilization of local residents by Russia continues, and on September 21, at the same time as the “referendums” were announced, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the partial mobilization of Russians.

The international independent civil society platform CivilMPlus, which brings together civil society actors in Europe to overcome Russia’s war against Ukraine and establish a democratic peace in Europe, strongly condemns such actions:

  • Holding such fictitious “votes” on the internationally recognized territory of another state is a gross violation of international law, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine;
  • The so-called “referendums” in the occupied territories of Ukraine have nothing to do with free expression of will: exit routes out of settlements are closed, ballots are brought to people at their place of residence, and they are forced to vote in the presence of representatives of the occupation administrations or armed military;
  • The new annexation of the territories of the neighboring country, as well as the partial mobilization announced in the Russian Federation, contradict the previous statements of the Russian leadership about their readiness for dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities and to end the war unleashed by the Kremlin;
  • The ongoing forced mobilization of residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine is a war crime. Forcing citizens of an opposing side to take part in hostilities against their own side is contrary to international norms and rules of warfare.

We call on governments and civil societies around the world, in particular the G7 countries, the European Union and its member states to:

  • Expand, following the example of the UK, the sanctions regime against persons responsible for the “referendums” and their preparation, including citizens of Ukraine who work for the occupation administrations in the occupied territories of their country and citizens of third countries who contribute to the holding of such “referendums” through their presence, including as “observers”;
  • Continue the policy of not recognizing the “referendums” and considering their results as null and void;
  • Work together to bring to justice the perpetrators of the ongoing practice of forced mobilization of the local population in the occupied territories of Ukraine;
  • Strengthen international support for Ukraine and its resistance to Russian aggression.

We support the statements of the Ukrainian authorities on the non-prosecution of residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine who have been forcibly mobilized by Russian forces, have not committed crimes and voluntarily surrendered. 

Support for Ukraine’s struggle against the Russian invasion to preserve its independence and territorial integrity, as well as its post-war reconstruction and democratic development is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable peace, security and prosperity in Europe. Another condition for this is the end of the current regime in Russia, its transition to a democratic path of development and the rejection of imperial ideology.


The text of the statement does not necessarily reflect the position of all CivilMPlus member organizations. 

For additional information or media inquiries, please contact Artem Danylchenko, Communications Coordinator – info@civilmplus.org


The international independent civil society platform CivilMPlus was established in 2017 through the efforts of civil activists from different countries. It includes organizations and experts from Ukraine, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, Russia and other European countries.

As an association of public organizations and experts from different countries and with different views, the CivilMPlus platform supports the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The actions and positions of the platform are based on the values ​​of freedom and democracy, for which millions of Ukrainians risk their lives every day.

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