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International observers from UK, US, Ukraine monitor elections in Crimea

March 18, 10:25 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL

On Sunday, Crimea and Sevastopol mark the fourth anniversary of reunification with Russia

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SIMFEROPOL, March 18. /TASS/. Forty-three international observers from 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine, arrived in Crimea to monitor the Russian presidential election, which is held on the Black Sea Peninsula for the first time, the regional election commission’s chairman said.

"The election in Crimea will be monitored by 43 international observers from 20 countries, including Austria, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Malaysia, Serbia, the United States, Ukraine, France, Finland and Sweden," Mikhail Malyshev told reporters.

Nearly 3,600 public observers will also monitor the election, he said. Russian and foreign journalists, including from France and Sweden, will cover the polls.

More than 1,200 ballot stations opened at 8.00 a.m. Moscow Time (05.00 a.m. GMT) in Crimea where some 1.5 million citizens are eligible to vote.

On Sunday, Crimea and Sevastopol mark the fourth anniversary of reunification with Russia. The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev who seized power amid riots during a 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 Russia. The Russian president signed the reunification deals on March 18, 2014. Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

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