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Majority of Crimea citizens one year after referendum do not regret joining Russia

March 17, 2015, 5:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW

In mid-March last year over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favour of reuniting with Russia

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MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. Most citizens of Crimea do not regret the Black Sea peninsula’s entry into Russia a year after a historic referendum took place, the speaker of the legislative assembly in the city of Sevastopol said on Monday.

"Most people do not regret what happened a year ago," Alexei Chaly told Rossiya-24 television news channel. "But it doesn’t mean that people are satisfied with the current state of affairs," he added.

Speaking about the future of Sevastopol, a Russian federal city and home to Russia's Black Sea fleet, Chaly said that the city "should become a federal centre for military-patriotic and historical education", noting that "our religion and our writing system have their origins there".

Chaly, a former Russian businessman, said about his current work as the regional parliamentary speaker: "The most difficult thing was to shift from business to public administration. I wish I could see someone more qualified on this position [as the head of the legislative assembly]."

Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognise the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

In mid-March last year, Crimea re-joined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favour of reuniting with Russia.

Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticised by Western leaders and at the United Nations.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.

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