Over 95% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia

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crimea vote cartoon 2Over 95 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to joining Russia and less than 4 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to a report by Russian government owned website Russia Today ( RT) .

The numbers are very similar to what the regimes in the Arab world such as Syria have reported in the past.

The RT report was based on 75 percent of the votes that have already been counted which showed that 95.7 percent of voters said ‘yes’ to the reunion of Crimea with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation. Only 3.2 percent of the ballots were cast for staying with Ukraine as an Autonomous Republic with broader rights, the report said. The remaining 1.1 percent of the ballots were declared invalid.

The report added that 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.

crimea vote cartoonThe report claims that over a half of the Tatars living in the port city of Sevastopol took part in the referendum, with the majority of them voting in favor of joining Russia. About 40% of Crimean Tatars went to polling stations on Sunday, the republic’s prime minister Sergey Aksyonov said.

In a telephone call to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — his third in two weeks — US President Barack Obama said that the referendum “would never be recognized by the United States and the international community” and that “we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions,” the White House said.

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2 responses to “Over 95% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia”

  1. Russia may be tightening its grip on Crimea, with little resistance to date, but they have yet to face the Crimean Tatar factor.

    There are 266,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea, over 13% of the local population. They are Sunni Muslim, traditionally pro-Ukrainian, and much better organised than the local Ukrainians, who make up 23% of the population.

    A quick look at history tells you why: Stalin deported the Crimean Tatars en masse to Central Asia in 1944, and half of them died during or after the journey. They were only able to return after 1989; by which time their homes had gone and their culture had been erased.

    The Crimean Tatars are still economically marginalised, with constant tensions over land-squatting and ‘irregular constructions’ (shanty towns).

    But Crimea is their only home. Turkey hosts a large diaspora; but the peninsula was home to the Crimean Tatar Khanate from 1441 to 1783. The roots of Christianity in Crimea go back more than a thousand years; but the idea of Crimea as an ancient outpost of Orthodox Christianity is really only 160 years old, dating back to a programme of church-building to replace local mosques after the Crimean war of 1853-56.

    The Crimea that a young Leo Tolstoy saw during his army service was still Muslim in many parts.

    At rallies last month, the Crimean Tatars were chanting both “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic and “Glory to Ukraine” in Ukrainian. At the time, there was an outside chance of a Crimean regional government supported by the Crimean Tatars, some Ukrainians and local elites who resented the rule of Viktor Yanukovych’s clique., which is why Russia then intervened to put its supporters in power instead.

    So in less than a week, the Crimean Tatars have gone from being heroes of the revolution to an isolated minority. Their leaders are advising them to stay indoors, but there are also reports of Tatars forming self-defence units.

    The Crimean Tatars have been well organised since the 1960s. They have their own would-be parliament, the Qurultay, which revamped its voting system last year after an internal debate on accountability, introducing some proportional representation.

    Most religious organisations belong to the allied Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Crimea (DUMK), which has close links to official Islam in Turkey. Radical Islam exists, but has largely been kept to the fringes by the DUMK to date.

    Now the Crimean Tatars fear these organisations will be suppressed in a Russian-controlled Crimea. Since Yanukovych’s election in 2010, the Qurultay and its smaller executive body, the Mejlis, have been squeezed out of official organs and forced to compete with new radical parties, allegedly sponsored by the authorities in both Kiev and Moscow.

    The Mejlis may be replaced by the small number of pro-Russian Crimean Tatars, who have been dubbed the “Kazany”, because they are always saying life is better for the Volga Tatars in Kazan, capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan.

    The veteran leader of the Mejlis, Mustafa Cemiloğlu, has recently retired after a long career advocating peaceful protest. His successor, Refat Chubarov, follows a similar line.

    But since 2010, there has been a rising number of clashes over land, the desecration of graves and monuments, and fights over market trading rights with local mafia groups. The seventieth anniversary of the 1944 deportation will fall this May. The idea had been to hold an international conference on the Crimean Tatar problem; now it looks likely to be the key flashpoint.

    If the Crimean Tatar problem explodes, the blowback for Moscow will be immense. Russia’s relationship with Turkey is already under threat. Its reputation as a friend of Islam in the Middle East will be damaged.

    Russia has millions of Muslims of its own, the vast majority of whom are Sunni, including next door in the North Caucasus. Historically, the Crimean Tatars had close ties with the Circassians, who were driven from the Sochi area in 1864. And one reason why Putin has invested so much in backing Assad’s Alawite regime in Syria against the Sunni majority was his fear of Sunni unrest at home.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Yes Btr2u. And ONE would hope that they affiliated with being ‘citizens’ before being ‘muslims’.
      ‘Over 95 percent of voters ….’ … and good the article notes that ‘voters’. A large % of the population refused to vote. The Tatars and the Ukrainians. Russian retirees and the brainwashed did – and they are the majority, which Putin knows … would probably have had majority in any real vote anyway … although ‘big numbers of the fearful’ is best, of course. People do generally prefer stability even under a gun-barrel.
      Which is why the whole thing happened in the first place – there wasn’t any stability under the robber-barron-guy who lined up with Putin after the government had decided that going with the EU could have been better for everyone’s desire to have a job. He reversed what had been decided – FOR ‘the people’. Now Putin has ‘the con’. How much he will take from the Ukraine remains to be seen. The world watches …. but as with Syria, is not going to go to war over it.
      WE can note the megalomania.

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