Crimeans overwhelmingly vote ‘yes’ to joining Russia

Crimeans overwhelmingly vote ‘yes’ to joining Russia
Mon Mar 17, 2014 09:55:46

Over 95 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have voted ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia while less than four percent of the vote participants voted ‘no’ to the idea, preferring to remain part of Ukraine, according to preliminary results.

With over 75 percent of the votes already counted, results show that 95.7 percent of voters agreed with the reunion of the republic with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation, RT reported Monday.

Only 3.2 percent of the ballots were cast in favor of staying with Ukraine as an Autonomous Republic with broader rights. The remaining 1.1 percent of the ballots were declared invalid.

The overall voter turnout in the referendum on the status of Crimea is 81.37%, according to the head of the Crimean parliament’s commission on the referendum, Mikhail Malyshev.

The preliminary results of the popular vote were announced during a meeting in the center of Sevastopol, the city that hosts Russia's Black Sea fleet. The final results will be announced at a press conference at 7:00 GMT on Monday.

Meanwhile, international observers are planning to present their final declaration on the Crimean referendum on March 17, the head of the monitors’ commission, Polish MP Mateusz Piskorski told journalists.

He further added that the voting was held in line with international norms and standards.

Overall, the republic’s integration into Russia will take up to a year, the Prime Minister said, adding that it could be done faster. However, they want to maintain relations with “economic entities, including Ukraine,” rather than burn bridges.

Moscow is closely monitoring the vote count in Crimea, said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Karasin.

“The results of the referendum will be considered once they are drawn up,” he added.

The decision to hold a referendum was made after the bloody uprising in Kiev, backed by the US and the EU, which forced President Vladimir Yanukovich out of power.

Crimea - which is home to an ethnic Russian majority population - refused to recognize the coup-appointed government as legitimate.

Crimeans feared that the new leadership would not represent their interests and respect rights. Crimeans were particularly unhappy over parliament's decision to revoke the law allowing the use of minority languages, including Russian, as official along with the Ukrainian tongue.

Crimeans then staged mass anti-Maidan protests and asked Russia to protect them.


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