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Dmitry Belik: Crimean referendum may create precedent, but they abound in Europe

March 12, 2014, 23:15 UTC+3 SEVASTOPOL
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SEVASTOPOL, March 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Crimea and Sevastopol have a right to self-determination, Sevastopol’s acting Mayor Dmitry Belik told ITAR-TASS and Kryminform news agencies on Wednesday, March 12.

“When downright fascism sprang up in Ukraine, the country started to split up,” he said.

When asked whether the referendum on March 16, in which the residents of Crimea will have to decide whether they want to join Russia or stay within Ukraine, may create a precedent for southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, Belik said, “We understand that this will be a precedent. But such precedents can be found in the European Union and in the rest of the world as well. For example, Scotland is to hold a referendum and there is no hysteria about it. Or Catalonia. They are doing this but there is no visible aggravation of the situation as we can see here.”

“We have a right to self-determination. We have a right to state our opinion in a democratic and open manner,” he added.

Crimea’s German community will vote for the peninsula’s accession to Russia, the community’s leader Yuri Gempel said.

“We fully support the referendum, and our ethnic group will vote for the first question, for accession to Russia,” he said.

First Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea Rustam Temirgaliyev said the Ukrainian military stationed in Crimea who have not yet sided with its authorities would be allowed to vote in the referendum.

“All citizens of Ukraine staying on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have a right to come and vote, including the military personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” he said.

“If Crimea joins Russia as its republic, the Ukrainian military personnel, who have not yet come over to Crimea’s side, and there are only a few of them left, will be able to leave their military units unarmed and go to mainland Ukraine,” Temirgaliyev said.

Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov said all polling stations on the peninsula were heavily guarded and ballots had been printed.

“The ballots have been printed, they are ready and are being delivered to the territorial electoral commissions and polling stations,” he said.

Temirgaliyev said all polling stations would work for 14 hours on March 16, two hours longer than was intended initially - from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

“We want all local electoral commissions to work from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.,” he added.

The first results of Crimea’s referendum, in which its residents will have to decide whether they want to join Russia or stay within Ukraine, will be available on March 16 and the final results will be announced later, Crimean Minister of Information Dmitry Polonsky said.

He said one electoral commission would handle 1,000 ballots on the average. “I think we will see the first data, the quick ones when a commission counts, draws up a protocol and transmits [it] by telephone or electronic communication lines to the Central Electoral Commission, on the sixteenth,” the minister said.

The final results will be announced only after all official documents have been delivered to the Central Electoral Commission.

He believes that “we will get data, 90 percent reliable, before the end of the day on March 16.”

The referendum will be held on March 16. The decision was adopted by 49 of 50 MPs present at the session.

Two questions will be asked during the referendum:

1. Do you support Crimea’s reunification with Russia as its constituent member?

2. Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea of 1992 and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

The ballots in Sevastopol will also include a question on its accession to Crimea as a city with a special status, he added.

Sevastopol’s City Council ruled on March 6, to hold a referendum on the city’s accession to Russia.

Acting Mayor Belik said Sevastopol would join Russia as its constituent member after the referendum.

“We will hold one referendum with the rest of Crimea, but after it two entities will join Russia as its constituent members: Sevastopol and Crimea. And changes to the constitution will also be made separately,” he said.

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