TSKHINVAL, March 17. /ITAR-TASS/. A free choice of Crimean residents at the referendum on March 16 must be respected and recognized by the international community, the president of South Ossetia, the republic that declared independence from Georgia in 2008, said on Monday.
According to President Leonid Tibilov, 'the results of the referendum in Crimea reflect a will of the multi-national population of the peninsula", Tibilov’s spokeswoman Gana Yanovskaya quoted him as saying. "They convincingly show that the overwhelming majority of peninsula’s residents are in favor of joining the Russian Federation", said the leader of the republic.
"The decision made by the Crimean residents not only reflects historical experience and aspirations of the Crimean people, but is also basing on fundamental principles of democracy and international law", he added.
A total of 96.7% of voters backed a split from Ukraine in the referendum in which voters were asked whether they wanted to join Russia or have a greater autonomy within Ukraine.