SOCHI, October 18. /TASS/. Attempts to dispute Crimea’s status as a part of Russia are futile, since it was a democratic choice of people living in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"The Crimea is ours. Why? It is not because we came there and snatched something… People in Crimea turned up to vote at a referendum and cast their votes to be independent and, as a next step, be a part of Russia," Putin said adding that this is what the democracy is about.
"We proceed from the will of people living in this region," President Putin added.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during the coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.