A Russian-appointed official in the occupied region of Kherson says its return to Ukrainian control is "impossible" – and has ruled out a referendum to decide its future.
The Deputy Chairman of the Russian-appointed administration of the region, Kirill Stremousov, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti:
"The issue of returning the Kherson region to Nazi Ukraine is excluded. This is impossible. The Kherson region will develop economically. "
Stremousov, who is Ukrainian and has a long record on the fringes of regional politics, added:
Kyiv will no longer be able to impose its ugly Nazi policy on our land, aimed at destroying people and their identity."
Last month, Ukrainian prosecutors opened a case against Stremousov for "assisting a foreign state in carrying out subversive activities against Ukraine."
There had been reports that the Russians would organize some form of a referendum in Kherson on whether the southern region should become an independent republic, like the self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. But Stremousov said that would not happen.
He said the main task was to restore the region's economy, and "no referendums are planned."
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Zelensky derided reported plans to hold a referendum in Kherson.
"Russia wants to stage a sham 'referendum' somewhere on our land? Even if they try, it will be as shameful as everything else that was 'created' in Moscow to support the occupation of Ukraine,” he said.