'ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — A long line of cars pulls into the parking lot of a
home goods store set up as a makeshift welcome center. People pile out of the
cars, looking exhausted but relieved, some are crying, many are smiling.
Officials stop at each car, checking documents.
This convoy is coming from the south, from places like Melitopol and Kherson,
areas that have been occupied by Russia for months now.
"We were waiting, hoping that the Ukrainian army would come, and the battle for
our city would begin," said 55-year-old Viktoria Yermoleny, who left Melitopol
with her husband and their dog. "But then we heard about the referendum, and we
just couldn't risk it anymore."
Controversial Russian referendums have begun in the Ukrainian regions of
Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — some of which are only partially
controlled by Russia. The voting is illegal under both Ukrainian and
international law and is largely seen as a sham, as it's almost certain to
result in Moscow's favor. But still, it could pave the way for the Kremlin to
annex the areas, bringing them in to join the Russian Federation.'
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics