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Britain sanctions collaborators of Russia's referendums in Ukraine

A still image taken from a handout video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry press service shows a local man flying the Russian flag on his balcony in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on July 4. Britain sanctioned the perpetrators of the referendums held in Ukraine. Photo by Russian Defense Ministry/EPA-EFE.
A still image taken from a handout video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry press service shows a local man flying the Russian flag on his balcony in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on July 4. Britain sanctioned the perpetrators of the referendums held in Ukraine. Photo by Russian Defense Ministry/EPA-EFE.

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced sanctions against the perpetrators and collaborators who orchestrated referendums in four regions of Ukraine that Russia currently controls.

Britain announced 92 sanctions Monday for the "sham" referendums that were held, saying they violated international law and were an attempt to grab land.

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"Sham referendums held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair and we will never recognize their results. They follow a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture, and forced deportations in the areas of Ukraine Russia has seized," Cleverly said.

"Today's sanctions will target those behind these sham votes, as well as the individuals that continue to prop up the Russian regime's war of aggression. We stand with the Ukrainian people and our support will continue as long as it takes to restore their sovereignty."

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The referendums were held in areas that Russia controls, including Luhansk and Kherson, as well as in regions it partly controls such as Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia. The latter two make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, a region where pro-Russia separatists have been living for years and fighting the Ukrainian government in Kyiv.

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The individuals sanctioned include Sergei Yeliseyev, the head of the government in Kherson and Ivan Kusov, the minister of education and science of the Luhansk People's Republic. Yevhen Balytskyi, the Russia-installed head of the government in Zaporizhzhia was also sanctioned.

Among the entities sanctioned were IMA Consulting, which has been called "Putin's favorite PR agency," and has been awarded the contract to manage campaigns for the referendum. Goznak, a security documents company that produced expedited passports for the territories, was also sanctioned.

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Britain also sanctioned several oligarchs including Iskander Makhmudov, the president and founder of Ural Mining and Metallurgic Company.

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