Crimeans on Sunday voted to join Russia – the former political master amid tension in Eastern Ukraine. However, the new leaders of Ukraine have termed the vote in the Black Sea peninsula as illegal. For two weeks, the Russian forces have been in control the area – Crimean peninsula.
John Kerry, the UN Secretary of State demanded Moscow to pull back it forces in exchange for constitutional reforms that will see the rights of minority protected. Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that whatever the outcome of the referendum, he will respect. However, European Union expressed strong disapproval on the vote and has stated that on Monday it would decide on the sanctions against Russia.
In Crimea itself, what the people wanted was evident. Russian flags were everywhere from convoys of bikers to city buses as thousands of people headed to the polls. Soon after casting his vote, Sergiy Aksyonov, the pro-Moscow prime minister told the reporters that was an historic moment.
Pro-Moscow militias and Cossacks were outside the polling stations patrolling as Russian troops protected the unofficial border that lies between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. Except Russia, a lot of the international community and Ukraine’s new government have made it clear that they will not recognize the results – which were expected to be in favor of Crimea’s succession.
In a phone call, Kerry told Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister that Ukraine’s crisis can only be put to end politically. Meanwhile, Putin informed Angela Merkel, the German chancellor of his willingness to abide by the decision of Crimea’s residents. He went further to accuse the authorities of Ukraine for propelling tensions especially in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
Tension remained high in some parts of Ukraine Southeast. In recent days, three activists have been killed in Kharkiv and Donetsk. Close to 1,000 pro-Moscow activists turned out to support the referendum in Crimea while in Kharkiv, 2,000 turned out. Some Crimeans claimed that they destroy their ballots and even there was a call on social media not to turn up at the polling stations.
Crimean authorities have claimed that there were no irregularities but journalists were not allowed to enter some polling stations in Simferopol and Sevastopol. Also, there were claims that people started voting before polls began.
Foreign observers were present except Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which claimed that Ukraine national government did not officially invited it. Crimea’s indigenous Muslim Community and crimean tatars largely boycotted the referendum.
Dilyara Seitvelieva, who is a community leader in an historic Tatar town-Bakhchysaray, claimed that they were not going to vote because the situation was dangerous. Ethnic Russians were mostly seen voting in Bakhchysaray.
Preliminary results were awaited immediately the polls closed at 8PM. According to the referendum committee, the turnout was at sixty four percent which was two-thirds. There was no doubt about the outcome because the rehearsals for celebrations included slogans such as “We are in Russia” or “Crimea is a part of Russia”. Early results have indicated that Crimea will join Russia.
Meanwhile, in Sevastopol, the mood was patriotic and celebratory evidenced by Russian military songs. If the result of referendum is pre-Moscow, then preparation of becoming part of Russia are to start this week. Though there have been no armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russian forces, several incidents involving pro-unity activists and journalists are extremely worrying.
Serbian observes about today’s referendum in Crimea says thats: “Unlike in Serbia (about status of Kosovo), where the referendum took place under pressure of the western countries, here people vote freely”.
It is hard to tell where is a truth and who is right. We are all have different conclusions.