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MOSCOW, March 13, /ITAR-TASS/. The Chairman of the State Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots, Leonid Slutsky, expressed hope that the referendum on the status of Crimea (autonomy within Ukraine) on March 16 would go smoothly.
Slutsky reiterated that he would lead a delegation of Duma observers to the Crimean referendum.
“We have received a special accreditation and will visit polling stations and meet with Crimean parliament and government members, Prime Minister [Sergei] Aksyonov, representatives of Russian-speaking communities and our compatriots,” he said.
Slutsky believes that the Crimean authorities would create all conditions for the free expression of people’s will at the referendum. “I am confident that future Crimea will be an example of peaceful co-existence of different peoples. It will be a successful, multi-ethnic and prosperous Crimea with balanced religious and language culture,” he said.
The MP said he would present the observer mission’s conclusions in the Duma on March 18.
There are 1,204 local electoral commissions and 27 territorial ones in Crimea. A total of 1,550,000 ballots (excluding Sevastopol) have been printed for the referendum.
Polling stations will work on March 16 from 10 a.m. until midnight Moscow time.
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.