Results of exit polls published right after the closure of polling stations showed that 93% of those who had come to the polls voted for Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation.
Preliminary data says that the voters turnout across the region was 73.4% on the average. In the main naval port city of Sevastopol where the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is located, 85% registered voters came to the polls.
Particularly noticeable was the participation of 40% Crimean Tatars in the referendum.
The voting procedures were monitored by about 70 international observers from 23 countries. Their scope included members of European parliament, leading experts in international law, and human rights activists.
The session that will draw up the results of the referendum is due to begin at 10:00 hours East European Standard Time.
Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma sized up the referendum as a historic one. He said that Russia had been mostly losing people all the way beginning with 1991 and now it was eventually getting is fellow-countrymen back.
Current all-Crimea referendum is already the 7th attempt of local population to attain change of status of the autonomy for the last 23 years. All attempts of Crimean residents to voice their opinion on policy of central authorities in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, were futile.
1. The first so-called “founding” referendum was held in January 1991. As many as 1.8 million Crimean residents had the suffrage right. 93 percent voted for reinstatement of the Crimean Autonomy in the Soviet Union and independence from Ukraine. Ukrainian parliament that enacted the law on Crimea’s autonomy within Ukraine cancelled the decision.
2. The second referendum named “the moratorium one” was not held.
It was planned in August 1992. This referendum should have confirmed the act on state independence of the Republic of Crimea outside Ukraine. Kiev authorities cancelled the referendum as that contradicting the Ukrainian Constitution. A moratorium was introduced on referendums over Crimea’s status.
3. The third referendum called “constitutional” was not held.
It was planned in June 1995. This referendum should have turned down lawfulness of the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to annul the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea. Kiev authorities cancelled it as that contradicting Ukrainian legislation.
4. A fourth referendum named “the status one” was not held.
It was planned in 1998. This referendum should have lifted a moratorium on referendums over Crimea’s status and should have granted the status of state language to the Russian language in Crimea. Kiev authorities disrupted the referendum.
5. The fifth referendum called “the Russian one” was not held.
It was planned in March 2006 as a republican referendum on Russian language status. Viktor Yanukovych-led Party of Regions initiated the referendum. The Ukrainian Central Elections Commission banned it.
6. The sixth referendum named “the popular one” did not have legal force. An unofficial, people’s referendum was held in December 2006. Official authorities boycotted it, but failed to foil it, as the organisation named All-Crimea People’s Assembly held voting in the streets. Around 900,000 people participated in the voting and 99 percent of voters opposed Ukraine’s policy for entry in NATO. The referendum did not have legal effect.