Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Macron Presses Netanyahu on Jerusalem

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Where is the Right Going' with Wauquiez as its New Leader

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

UN condemns deadly attack on peacekeepers in DR Congo

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump's Jerusalem move angers Muslim world; UK and EU break deadlock on Brexit

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Trapped in Libya, migrants face torture and slavery

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Tahrir Square, a melting pot for Egyptian revolutions

Read more

FASHION

Mens fashion: ‘The flowers are starting to bloom’

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Lyon's Fête des Lumières: From candles to extraordinary light shows

Read more

#TECH 24

A glimpse into the hotels of the future

Read more

Europe

Pro-Russian Crimeans vote to restore 'Russian soul'

© Mehdi Chebil / FRANCE 24

Text by Mehdi CHEBIL

Latest update : 2014-03-17

FRANCE 24’s special correspondent spoke to Crimeans at polling stations on Sunday, March 16, as voters participated in a contested referendum expected to validate the annexation by Russia of this sovereign republic located within Ukraine.

“Why am I voting to join Russia? Because I’m Russian!” exclaims Viktor Nicolaivitch Sirodkin.

For this chauffeur and delivery driver, that explanation comes naturally, despite the fact that he had to show a Ukrainian passport to vote this morning at polling station Number 8 in Simferopol, the Crimean capital.

According to 57-year-old Sirodkin, Kiev’s control over Crimea is an error of history.

“We have a Russian soul, and everything else is secondary,” he says after casting his ballot.

Voters rushing into voting centres in the capital seemed to agree.

A foregone conclusion

Igor, a factory worker in Simferopol, emphasises the economic benefits of joining Russia. “Kiev is destroying everything, while Putin is trying to build something new,” he offers. “Russia has evolved since the 90s…here nothing has changed.”

The result of the referendum is seen as a foregone conclusion, since the opponents of annexation by Russia – a minority – have elected to boycott the poll.

The vice president of the Assembly of Crimean Tatars (a Turkic Muslim minority), Nariman Djelyal, told FRANCE 24 that it was, for him and many of his fellow Tatars, unthinkable to legitimise the referendum by participating.

“We called for a boycott of the referendum,” he said. “And this boycott doesn’t just concern Tatars; we are asking all residents of Crimea to abstain from voting.”

Needless to say that that call has gone unheeded by the republic’s Russian-speaking majority.

Date created : 2014-03-16

  • UKRAINE – CRIMEA

    Everything you need to know about Crimea’s referendum

    Read more

  • UKRAINE – CRIMEA

    Crimea holds referendum on splitting from Ukraine

    Read more

  • UKRAINE - RUSSIA

    Ukraine ‘repels attempted Russian incursion’

    Read more

COMMENT(S)