A referendum is occurring in Crimea today. Its legitimacy is recognized only by Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea. Activists have documented a number of violations during the course of the referendum.
One of the issues is the fact that ballots were distributed to the voters who are not registered in the voting lists, including nationals of other countries. A Russian citizen with a residence permit in Simferopol was able to get a ballot for the referendum.
Those who do not go to vote in the referendum get a visit from the mobile voting teams, sometimes escorted by police. Often these teams demand that people vote.
Evidence of ‘properly supervised’ votes cast by patients of a psychiatric institution near Yalta has been cited by spokeswoman Majlis Leyla Muslimova.
Widespread obstruction of the work of journalists has also been reported at the Crimean referendum. There were restrictions on which journalists could be present when the head of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov (unrecognized by officials in Kyiv), cast his vote. In particular, Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalists and representatives of other English-language publications were banned, despite having valid credentials.
At polling station #10020 in Feodosia, ten of Aksenov’s vigilantes forbade journalists from recording the voting process.
Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) representative Andrey Krisko also reported obstructions to the work of journalists. In particular, at polling station #08163 (Simferopol), an ICTV crew tried to conduct a survey and was prohibited from doing so, contrary to their credentials. The reason given was that the media had not checked in prior to the opening of the site. Only after telephone conversations with the territorial commission for journalists “…was an exception made.” An ATR crew faced a similar situation in Bilohirsk.
At polling station #10020 (Feodosia), media representatives were forbidden to take pictures by the ‘Crimean self-defense units.’ At polling station #01004 (Alushta), an Al-Jazeera news crewmember’s camera was hit, snapping off the microphone; they were prohibited from filming and not allowed into the polling station. The reason they were given is that in Alushta, the city council must grant additional accreditation.
According to Krysko, the additional voter lists include massive numbers of citizens who don’t qualify to vote, contrary to existing election provisions. Thus, in Bakhchysarai polling station #47272, 300 excess people were included. Ballots were issued after submitting an application for inclusion in a supplementary list, without a vote of the commission members. Similar situations occurred in polling stations #10020 and #10021 in Feodosia. In Saki, polling station #07009, voter lists dating back to 1999 were used.
Kurultaj’s CEC head Zaire Smedlyaev also confirms that violations occurred in the Crimean referendum. He wrote about them on his Facebook page:
“The process of vote-rigging in this so-called referendum is in full swing! They violate the very rules of the game they themselves initiated. Yesterday and today, despite it being a designated day of silence, the whole city has been decorated with billboards inviting people to vote for Crimea to become a part of Russia. Administrative buildings are flying Russian flags. In Bakhchysarai District, buses brought in ‘flying Dutchmen’ who apparently will travel around the sites and insert illegitimate ballots into the ballot boxes. Russian citizens are openly participating in the voting. ATR journalists were not allowed into the Belgorod region’s polling station. In short, one crime (illegal referendum) is spawning a new crime (falsifications to avoid responsibility).”
To recap: Crimea is holding a referendum with two questions, neither of which provide for maintaining its present status as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
This referendum is recognized by neither the Ukrainian authorities nor the world community, except for Russia, Syria, Venezuela and North Korea. The list of foreign observers who arrived in Crimea to monitor the referendum includes representatives of a far-right Hungarian party known for attacks on Jews and Gypsies, and a ‘leftist’ European parliament deputy who has a reputation as a neo-Stalinist.
Ukrainian authorities and the international community consider the referendum in Crimea illegitimate. It is only recognized as legal by Russia, Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela.
Translated by Constantin Necrasov, edited by Robin Rohrback