SIMFEROPOL, March 15, /ITAR-TASS/. Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Olga Kotividi asked EU countries to support the referendum on the status of the autonomy to be held on March 16.
“I ask EU countries and all those who speak about democracy to support Crimea. Help us today,” she said on Saturday, March 15, at a press conference of international observers who will monitor the referendum.
Kotividi said the referendum, in which the residents of Crimea will have to decide whether they want to join Russia or stay within Ukraine, had been called in reply to Kiev’s actions. “Initially, we in Crimea did not raise the question of separation and accession to Russia or any other entity. We only wanted broader powers for the autonomy. We just wanted to live in peace. But what is happening in Ukraine raises serious concerns,” she said.
There are two presidents in Ukraine now, which makes it unclear who exactly is running the country. Kotividi noted that people in Crimea had at first shared the demands of protesters in Maidan (Kiev’s Independence Square), including anti-corruption and Euro-integration calls, but everything changed when gunmen from the ultra-nationalist Right Sector had got involved in the events in Kiev. “We are afraid today and we do not trust Kiev,” Kotividi said citing among other things Kiev’s decision to outlaw the Russian language in the country.
Kotividi said Kiev’s actions had prompted Crimea to raise the question of accession to Russia. “We allowed our people to choose. Let the people of Crimea decide where they should be,” she added.
The referendum will be held on March 16. The decision was adopted by 49 of 50 MPs present at an urgent session of the Crimean parliament on February 27.
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.
Fifty-four observers from EU countries have already arrived in Crimea, its Strategic Communications Agency told ITAR-TASS.
About 70 persons from 23 countries, including Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and Latvia have registered as observers.
“These are European Parliament members, members of the national parliaments in European countries, leading European experts on international law, and human rights activists,” the Agency said.
The observers will monitor the voting, visit polling stations and help count votes. Most of them have noted the calm situation in the region and said the referendum would be legitimate.
Mateusz Piskorski, member of the Polish Sejm and director of the European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis, said that on one hand there were international laws determining the basic rights of people to self-determination, while on the other hand Ukrainian laws did not guarantee these rights. Since international standards are senior to the standards applied by individual countries, the referendum in Crimea has a legitimate basis, he said.