Crimean status referendum, 2014

Crimean status referendum, 2014

Map of the Crimean peninsula with its political subdivisions

Subdivisions of Crimea colored according to referendum results
Location Autonomous Republic of Crimea Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Date March 16, 2014 (2014-03-16)
Voting system Majority voting
Autonomous Republic of Crimea[lower-alpha 1][1]
Join Russian Federation
Restore 1992 constitution
Invalid votes
Voter turnout: 83.1%
Join Russian Federation
Restore 1992 constitution
Invalid votes
Voter turnout: 89.5%
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of Crimea

Republic of Crimea (within Russia)

Autonomous Republic of Crimea (within Ukraine)

See also
Political status of Crimea
Politics of Russia
Politics of Ukraine

A referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March 16, 2014, by the legislature of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as well as by the local government of Sevastopol, both subdivisions of Ukraine. The referendum asked the people of Crimea whether they wanted to join Russia as a federal subject, or if they wanted to restore the 1992 Crimean constitution and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine. The referendum occurred five days after the Crimean government announced the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Crimea, which followed a parliamentary vote in which 78 out of 100 of Crimea's parliamentarians voted in favour of Crimea seceding from Ukraine.[3]

The March 16 referendum's available choices did not include keeping the status quo of Crimea and Sevastopol as they were at the moment the referendum was held. The 1992 constitution accords greater powers to the Crimean parliament including full sovereign powers to establish relations with other states, therefore many Western and Ukrainian commentators argued that both provided referendum choices would result in de facto separation from Ukraine.[4][5][6]

The Supreme Council of Crimea considered the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution as a coup and the new interim government in Kiev as illegitimate and stated that the referendum was a response to these developments.[7] The final date and ballot choices were set only ten days before the plebiscite was held. The referendum was regarded as illegitimate by most countries including all European Union members, the United States and Canada because of the events surrounding it[8] including the plebiscite being held while the peninsula was occupied by Russian soldiers.[9] Thirteen members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of a resolution declaring the referendum invalid, but Russia vetoed it and China abstained.[10][11] A United Nations General Assembly resolution was later adopted, by a vote of 100 in favor vs. 11 against with 58 abstentions, which declared the referendum invalid and affirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity.[8] The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People called for a boycott of the referendum.[12][13]

Russia officially recognized the results of the Crimean referendum and states that unilateral Kosovo declaration of independence has set a precedent, which allows secession of Crimea from Ukraine.[14] Such parallels, however, are disputed by legal scholars.[15][16][17]

The official result from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was a 96.77 percent vote for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83.1 percent voter turnout.[lower-alpha 1][1] The Mejlis Deputy Chairman Akhtem Chiygoz felt that the actual turnout could not have exceeded 30–40 percent, arguing that to be the normal turnout for votes in the region.[18]

Following the referendum, The Supreme Council of Crimea and Sevastopol City Council declared the independence of the Republic of Crimea from Ukraine and requested to join the Russian Federation.[19] On the same day, Russia recognized the Republic of Crimea as a sovereign state.[20][21]


Linguistic map of Ukraine according to the 2001 census, with Russian (in red) dominant in Crimea.
Distribution of ethnicities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (which doesn't include Sevastopol) according to the 2001 census. Ethnic Russians comprise a majority at 58%.[22]

According to the 2014 Ukrainian population census, 65.3% of the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea are ethnic Russians, 15.7% are ethnic Ukrainians and 12.2% are Crimean Tatars. In Sevastopol, 71.6% are ethnic Russians and 22.4% are ethnic Ukrainians.[23] 77% of Crimea's and 94% of Sevastopol's population are native speakers of Russian.[24]

Crimea and Sevastopol are neighboring subdivisions of Ukraine located in the Crimean peninsula, a region with a long and complex history.[25][26] Demographically, the region is currently populated by Russian-speaking majorities but with such demographics undergoing dramatic changes for the past 200 years, due in part to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars 70 years ago.[27] Following the Tatar deportation, large numbers of ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians settled in the region.[28]


During the period of the Soviet Union, the Crimean Oblast was a subdivision of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic until the 1954 transfer of Crimea into the Ukrainian SSR. Crimea became part of independent Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, shortly after Crimea had re-gained its autonomy following a 1991 referendum.[29] The Ukrainian parliament abolished the 1992 Crimean Constitution[30] and the office of President of Crimea in 1995.[31] In 1998, Crimea gained a new constitution, which granted it less autonomy; notably, any legislation passed by the Crimean parliament could be vetoed by the Ukrainian parliament.[29]


Polling by the Razumkov Centre in 2008 found that 63.8% of Crimeans (76% of Russians, 55% of Ukrainians, and 14% of Crimean Tatars, respectively) would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia and 53.8% would like to preserve its current status, but with expanded powers and rights. Razumkov characterized Crimeans' views as controversial and unsteady, and therefore vulnerable to internal and external influences.[32] A poll by the International Republican Institute in May 2013 found that 53% wanted "Autonomy in Ukraine (as today)", 12% were for "Crimean Tatar autonomy within Ukraine", 2% for "Common oblast of Ukraine" and 23% voted for "Crimea should be separated and given to Russia".[33] A poll conducted by the Crimean Institute of Political and Social Research on 8–10 March 2014 found that 77% of respondents planned to vote for "reunification with Russia", and 97% assessed the current situation in Ukraine as negative.[34] A poll conducted by the GfK Group on 12–14 March 2014 with 600 respondents found that 70.6% of Crimeans intended to vote for joining Russia, 10.8% for restoring the 1992 constitution and 5.6% did not intend to take part in the referendum.[35][36] The poll also showed that if Crimeans had more choices, 53.8% of them would choose joining Russia, 5.2% restoration of 1992 constitution, 18.6% a fully independent Crimean state and 12.6% would choose to keep the previous status of Crimea.[35]

UNDP in Crimea conducted series of polls about possible referendum on joining Russia with a sample size of 1200:

Quarter YesNo Undecided
2009 Q3[37]70%14%16%
2009 Q4[37]67%15%18%
2010 Q1[38]66%14%20%
2010 Q2[38]65%12%23%
2010 Q3[38]67%11%22%
2010 Q4[38]66%9%25%
2011 Q4[39]65.6%14.2%20.2%

Different polls conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea found a 36% support for unification of the entire Ukraine with Russia in 2013 and 41% on 8–18 February 2014 (just days before the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych).[40]

A post-referendum survey, commissioned by John O’Loughlin, College Professor of Distinction and Professor of Geography at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Gerard Toal (Gearóid Ó Tuathail), Professor of Government and International Affairs at Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region campus, was conducted during December 2014 by the Levada-Center, and published in Open Democracy on March 3, 2015.[41] The survey showed showed "widespread support for Crimea’s decision to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation one year ago."

While the authors of that survey felt and opined that Crimea’s secession was “an illegal act under international law,” they also acknowledged “It is also an act that enjoys the widespread support of the peninsula’s inhabitants, with the important exception of its Crimean Tatar population.” Despite the survey's distinction of Crimean Tatar support for accession to Russia being lower than the support from the rest of Crimea's population, the survey still found that significantly more Crimean Tatars either felt that Crimea's secession from Ukraine and accession to Russia was either the "Absolutely right decision," or the "Generally right decision," than the number of Crimean Tatars who felt that the 2014 referendum outcome was the "Wrong decision." Overall, the survey found that 84% of Crimeans felt that the choice to secede fro Ukraine and accede to Russia was "Absolutely the right decision."

A third post-referendum survey, carried out by the Russia public opinion research center VCIOM in February 2015, found that 49% of Crimean Tatars would support the majority decision to leave Ukraine and join Russia if the referendum was to be repeated, while only a quarter of Crimean Tatars said they’d vote to remain in Ukraine.[42][43] VCIOM's poll also found support for the 2014 Crimean referendum outcome to be 97% in favour from Crimea's ethnic Russia population, 91% in favour from Crimea's ethnic Ukrainian population, and 92% in favour from all other populations of Crimea, for a total of 90% of Crimea's complete population being in favour of the 2014 Crimean referendum outcome to leave Ukraine and accede to Russia.

Events leading up to the referendum

Russian president Vladimir Putin has an experience with similar referendums. According to Vladimir Chuykin, who was head of Narva city council in 1993, Putin (who was the Saint Petersburg city official) aided the Russian majority population in the Estonian city in a referendum on autonomy that was later regarded as unconstitutional. The Narva referendum was not backed by Moscow. Cossacks were amassed on the other side of the Narva River before the referendum. Putin and St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak managed to prevent Cossacks from crossing the border.[44]

The interim Ukrainian government, United States, European Union, and several other nations stated that any referendum held by the local government of Crimea without the express authority of Ukraine is unconstitutional and illegitimate. The interim government in Kiev and the pro-Russian Crimean faction do not recognize each other as legitimate.[12][45] Additionally, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People—the unofficial political association of the Crimean Tatars—called for a boycott of the referendum.[12][13][46]

Russia and the Crimean parliament argue that the referendum is legal, citing the UN recognized right of self-determination and the advisory opinion on Kosovo in which the International Court of Justice declared that international law contains no prohibition against declarations of independence.[47][48][49] Legal scholars have disputed the validity of the Kosovo analogy.[15][16][17]

Request by Council of Ministers of Crimea to the Ukrainian 55th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment in Yevpatoria to lay down arms under control of the Russian Black Sea Fleet for the period of the referendum.

On February 27, amidst tensions in the region during the Ukrainian revolution, the Supreme Council of Crimea voted to hold a referendum on the status of Crimea on May 25.[50][51] Olha Sulnikova, head of information and analysis department of parliament, reported on the phone from inside the parliamentary building that 61 of the registered 64 deputies had voted for the referendum resolution and 55 for the resolution to dismiss the government.[52]

Interfax-Ukraine reported that, "it is impossible to find out whether all the 64 members of the 100-member legislature who were registered as present, when the two decisions were voted on or whether someone else used the plastic voting cards of some of them" because due to the armed occupation of parliament it was unclear how many members of parliament were present.[52]

Enver Abduraimov, member of the parliament presidium, said that he did not go inside when he saw that armed guards who secured the building were confiscating all communications devices from deputies. Andriy Krysko, head of the Crimean branch of the Voters Committee of Ukraine, announced that no one from the parliament secretariat was in the building when voting took place.[52]

Originally the referendum was to be about the status of Crimea within Ukraine and was initially set for May 25, but later, on March 1, it was pushed back to March 30.[53] The referendum was approved by the Supreme Council of Crimea on February but the Central Election Commission of Ukraine denounced 27 it by stating that the Crimean authorities do not possess the legal jurisdiction to conduct it.[54] Regarding the referendum's initial purpose, the Daily Telegraph reported on February 27, that it, "appears to be for greater autonomy within Ukraine rather than for full independence."[55]

On March 4, the district administration court of Kiev nullified the no confidence vote in the Council of Ministers of Crimea and the appointment of Sergey Aksyonov as Prime Minister of Crimea and declared the organization and conduct of the referendum as illegal.[56][57] On March 6, the Supreme Council changed the date of the referendum from March 30 to March 16 and changed the choice for the referendum from greater autonomy to accession to the Russian Federation. This decision was made with 78 votes in favor and 8 abstentions.[58] Concerns were raised about the presence of armed forces outside the parliament and reports of lawmakers being denied access to the vote.[59][60] Later that day, acting President Turchynov announced "In accordance with power I am conferred on, I have stopped the decision of the Crimean parliament. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will initiate dissolution of the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. We will defend the inviolability of the Ukrainian territory."

On March 11 in their joint Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Crimea, the Supreme Council of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council expressed their intention to join with Russia pending a supporting result in the referendum.[61]

On March 14 the Crimean parliament removed the coat of arms of Ukraine from its building.[62]

Several hundred residents of Crimea, mainly Crimean Tatars, left Crimea for security reasons according to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.[63][64]


Ballot sample.

There were two choices to choose from on the ballot. Voters were able to choose only one of these.[65] The choices reflected the following stances:[66][67]

Choice 1: Do you support the reunification of Crimea with Russia with all the rights of the federal subject of the Russian Federation?
Choice 2: Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea in 1992 and the status of the Crimea as part of Ukraine?[68]

The original in Russian read:

Choice 1: Вы за воссоединение Крыма с Россией на правах субъекта Российской Федерации?
Choice 2: Вы за восстановление действия Конституции Республики Крым 1992 года и за статус Крыма как части Украины?[68]

The referendum was to be decided by a simple majority with the choice with the most votes declared winner.[lower-alpha 2] Media outlets reported different translations for each choice and labeled them as "questions" which has created some confusion and inconsistencies on the matter.[67]

The city of Sevastopol, which is also located in the Crimean peninsula but administered separately from the Crimean republic, was also included in the referendum process.[70] However, on March 6, 2014, Sevastopol unilaterally declared itself a federal subject of the Russian Federation.[71]

For the second choice, it was unclear whether the 1992 constitution was to be adopted in its original form or in its amended form.[69][72] The original 1992 constitution was adopted together with a declaration of independence, but parliament then amended the constitution one day later to affirm that Crimea "was a part of Ukraine".[lower-alpha 3][74]

Many commentators, including The New York Times, Kyiv Post, and Fox News argued that both choices would result in de facto independence.[5][75][76][77][78]

The ballot was printed in three languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar (in the Cyrillic script).[79]


Transparent voting boxes are customary in Ukraine.

There were two simultaneous referendums, one organised by the city council of Sevastopol and another organised by a special committee set up by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Only Crimean residents with Ukrainian passports were allowed to vote.[80]

The voting boxes were transparent and the ballots were not placed in envelopes making some of the marked ballots visible through the box walls.[81][82][83]

The referendum rules did not state if there was a threshold number of votes needed for the result to be enacted.[84]

Legal aspects

What doesn't help for consensus concerning the legal basis of Crimea's March 16 referendum is that the reactions of many nations to the referendum, particularly of Western-nations, were actually addressing the matter of Crimean secession from Ukraine, whereas the Crimean referendum itself was not about secession from Ukraine, but took Crimea's secession from Ukraine to already be de-facto following its government's declaration: Crimea's March 16 referendum occurred following the March 11 declaration of Crimea's independence from Ukraine made by Crimea's parliament, which was made following a successful parliamentary vote of 78 in favour of, and 22 against Crimea's secession from Ukraine.[3] Both of the ballot options for the March 16, 2014 Crimean referendum acknowledged that Crimea was already an independent state at that time.[85]

According to article 73 of the 1996 Constitution of Ukraine[86] and article 3 of the 2012 Ukrainian law "On all-Ukrainian referendum", territorial changes can only be approved via a referendum where all the citizens of Ukraine are allowed to vote, including those that do not reside in Crimea.[87] The Central Election Commission of Ukraine also stated that there are no judicial possibilities, according to the legislation of Ukraine, to initiate such changes.[88] [89]

The Venice Commission declared that the referendum was illegal under both Ukrainian and Crimean Constitutions, and violated international standards and norms.[90] The Venice Commission stressed that self-determination was to be understood primarily as internal self-determination within the framework of the existing borders and not as external self-determination through secession. Moreover, the Venice Commission opined, any referendum on the status of a territory should have been preceded by serious negotiations among all stakeholders, and that such negotiations did not take place.

Many scholars and politicians (Neil Melvin, Robert McCorquodale, John Kerry, John B. Bellinger III, Marc Weller among few) have stated that the referendum was conducted under the cover of assault rifles and, thus, the result was obtained through violence.[15][16][17][91] However, according to Russia Today and ITAR-TASS those claims are debunked by many of the international observers such as a Polish Eurosian Mateusz Piskorski (leader of the European observers' mission according to the Russian RT), Ewald Stadler along with Johannes Hübner, Pavel Chernev, Aymeric Chauprade, Tatjana Ždanoka, Srđa Trifković among some 135 observers who attended the 2014 Crimean referendum, including some MPs of the European Union parliament, and MPs of European states who said they saw no signs of pressure or military presence during the referendum, and that the Crimean people were genuinely eager to have their say in the vote.[92][93]

Party of Regions MP Yuriy Miroshnychenko claimed March 11 that "the Crimean referendum is illegitimate, and its holding must be immediately stopped".[94] Another Party of Regions MP, Hanna Herman, commented the same day about Yanukovych's press conference, "He needs to ... prevent the illegal referendum".[95]

President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his conversation with Mustafa Dzhemilev, a former Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, stated that Ukrainian Independence from the Soviet Union was not obtained legitimately,[96][lower-alpha 4] while maintaining that the Crimean referendum followed all international-law, the UN charter, and the convention established by Kosovo's NATO-prodded annexation from Serbia.[98]


According to BBC News the campaign leading up to the referendum was "almost entirely pro-Russian".[84] Pro-Russia election posters often featured crossed-out swastikas in an alleged attempt to be saying "No" to the Ukrainian government, who they alleged to be neo-Nazis.[84] Shortly after the referendum was called Ukrainian TV channels were made unavailable for Crimean viewers, some of them were replaced with Russian stations.[84] BBC News also stated it had received reports of violence against pro-Ukrainian activists.[84]

Unsigned billboards and leaflets campaigning for the referendum, describing new Ukraine government as fascists and showing economic reasons to join Russia, appeared throughout Crimea.[99][100][101]


OSCE and UN absence

On March 10, 2014 the de facto Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksionov, made an unofficial verbal invitation to OSCE to monitor the plebiscite.[102][103] However, later in the day, an OSCE spokeswoman said that Crimea did not have the authority to invite the organization into the region as it is not a fully-fledged state and, therefore, incapable of requesting services provided exclusively to OSCE members.[103] On March 11, the OSCE chair, Switzerland's Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, declared the referendum as unconstitutional and therefore the OSCE would not send observers.[104] OSCE military observers attempted to enter the region four times but were turned away, sometimes after warning shots were fired,[105][106] which was another reason given for not dispatching referendum observers.[107]

OSCE also published a report about their observations which "produced significant evidence of equipment consistent with the presence of Russian Federation military personnel in the vicinity of the various roadblocks encountered".[108]

The UN Human Rights Envoy Ivan Simonovic had to cancel his trip to Crimea as the current situation did not permit his travel. He intended to observe the human rights situation which was Russia's explanation for its engagement in Crimea.[109]

Non-OSCE observers

Russian state-owned media and referendum organizers said that from nearly 70[110] to 135[111] international observers monitored the referendum without reporting any violations,[112] but objectivity of these has been questioned, because many of them had ties to far-right extremist groups.[113][114][115] According to reports by the state media, observers to the 2014 Crimean referendum included members of the European Union's parliament, as well as MPs from various European nations, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Poland,[92] and that observers quoted regarding the conditions of the referendum corroborated claims of the referendum having adhered to international standards, with no irregularities or breaches of democracy.[116]

According to Yale historian Timothy Snyder, the Russian government invited individuals belonging to European far-right, anti-semitic and neo-Nazi parties to serve as observers.[117] At least some of the international observers were managed and financed by the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections (EODE),[118][119] a far-right, NGO international election-monitoring organization.[120]

Shaun Walker from The Guardian reported that during a press conference on the eve of the referendum, some of the aforementioned observers "went on political rants against U.S. hegemony in the world", describing the press conference as "rather bizarre".[lower-alpha 5]

Exit-polls were allowed only for the Republican Institute of Sociological Research since, according to Russia-24, no other organizations have applied for accreditation for exit polls.[122]

Allegations of fraud

A Russian journalist claimed that she was allowed to vote even after admitting she was a Russian citizen with only a temporary one-year permit to live in Crimea[123] "According to all the laws, this is illegal," she said in one interview. "I am a foreign citizen. How can I decide the destiny of the Crimean Autonomous Republic of Ukraine?"[123]

The chairman of the electoral campaign of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People claimed officials did not check carefully whether voters' names were on the electoral register and that some voters were bussed in to Bakhchysarai to increase participation rates in the city.[124] Mejlis also stated that only 34.2% of Crimea residents participated in the referendum.[125][126]

There were few reports of people confiscating identification documents before the voting day. Simferopol city administration confirmed these claims and declared these actions unlawful.[127]

A senior US official claimed there was "concrete evidence" of some ballots having been pre-marked.[128][129]

According to three Czech observers funded by the pro-Russian far-right[130][120] non-governmental organization Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections,[131][132] deputy Stanislav Berkovec reported that the voting was free and the foreign deputies could move freely. According to his discussions with people, even the Tatars inclined towards Russia.[133] Another deputy Milan Šarapatka reported that the referendum was formally regular and that there was no evidence of pressure on voters.[134] According to Miloslav Soušek (the Vysoké Mýto mayor), the course of the referendum was comparable to the elections in the Czech Republic, he saw no soldiers in the town.[135]


Official results

According to the Central Election Commission of Ukraine on February 28, 2014 there were 1,534,815 registered voters in the autonomous republic of Crimea and 309,774 in the city of Sevastopol, which totals to 1,844,589 voters in the both Ukrainian regions.[136]

According to organizers of the referendum, 1,274,096 people voted in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, giving the plebiscite an 83.1% turnout in that region.[lower-alpha 1][1]

Final results from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea[lower-alpha 1][1]
(Values in italics are calculated by an editor rather than provided by official sources.)
Choice Votes Percentage of registered voters Percentage of all ballots cast Percentage of valid votes
Join the Russian Federation 1,233,002 80.42% 96.77% 97.47%
Restore the 1992 constitution and remain as a part of Ukraine 31,997 2.09% 2.51% 2.53%
Subtotal of valid votes 1,264,999 82.51% 99.29% 100.00%
Invalid or blank votes 9,097 0.59% 0.72%
Total votes cast 1,274,096 83.1% 100.00%
Registered voters that did not participate  259,112 16.9%
Total registered voters [lower-alpha 6]  1,533,208 100.00%
Final results from Sevastopol[2]
(Values in italics are calculated by an editor rather than provided by official sources.)
Choice Votes Percentage of registered voters Percentage of all ballots cast Percentage of valid votes
Join the Russian Federation 262,041 85.56% 95.6% 96.59%
Restore the 1992 constitution and remain as a part of Ukraine 9,250 3.02% 3.37% 3.41%
Subtotal of valid votes 271,291 88.58% 98.97% 100.00%
Invalid or blank votes 2,810 0.92% 1.03%
Total votes cast 274,101 89.50% 100.00%
Registered voters that did not participate 32,157 10.50%
Total registered voters 306,258 100.00%

Alternative estimates of results

In the evening of 16 March 2014, Mikhail Malyshev, the Crimean election Spokesman, reported that as of 20:00, 1,250,427 people or 81.36% voted in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and 274,136 or 89.50% voted in Sevastopol for a total of 1,524,563 or 82.71% of the electorate.[138] ITAR-TASS initially reported this as 1,724,563 voters in total,[139] but corrected it later.[140] The discrepancy led to some reports of a 123% turnout in Sevastopol.[141][142][143][144]

On May 5, the Russian President's Human Rights Council posted a report to their site about human rights in Crimea based on interviews with roughly 20 local human rights activists conducted over the course of two and a half days.[145] One member of the council, Yevgeny Bobrov, reported the opinion that the "vast majority of the citizens of Sevastopol voted in favor of unification with Russia in the referendum (50–80%)" and that "in Crimea, various data show that 50–60% voted for unification with Russia, with a turnout of 30–50%".[146] On 7 May the Council stated that the report was not an official position of the Council.[147]

Mustafa Dzhemilev, a recent Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, reports that according to his sources the actual turn-up was only 32.4%, however he did not provide any evidence to support this claim.[148] Mejlis Deputy Chairman Akhtem Chiygoz argued that voter turnout in the referendum among Crimeans did not exceeded 30–40 percent, but he did not provide any evidence either.[18]

Andrey Illarionov, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Russian government adviser, cited results of previous polls over past three years showing the Crimean support for joining Russia between 23 and 41 percent to conclude that the actual support for the reunification of Crimea with Russia was about 34 percent and that at least two thirds of Crimea did not vote for it. He called the referendum a "grossly rigged falsification" and the outcome "cynically distorted".[149]

Post-referendum polls

The results of the survey by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, conducted 21–29 April 2014, showed that 83% of Crimeans felt that the results of the March 16 referendum on Crimea’s status likely reflected the views of most people there. Whereas, this view is shared only by 30% in the rest of Ukraine.[150]

According to the Gallup's survey performed on 21–27 April, 82.8% of Crimean people consider the referendum results reflecting most Crimeans’ views,[151] and 73.9% of Crimeans say Crimea’s becoming part of Russia will make life better for themselves and their families, just 5.5% disagree.[151]

According to survey carried out by Pew Research Center in April 2014, majority of Crimean residents say the referendum was free and fair (91%) and that the government in Kyiv ought to recognize the results of the vote (88%).[152]

A poll of the Crimean public was taken by the Ukrainian branch of Germany's biggest market research organization, GfK, on 16–22 January 2015. According to its results: "Eighty-two percent of those polled said they fully supported Crimea's inclusion in Russia, and another 11 percent expressed partial support. Only 4 percent spoke out against it. ... Fifty-one percent reported their well-being had improved in the past year."[153]

Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky noted that "The calls were made on Jan. 16-22 to people living in towns with a population of 20,000 or more, which probably led to the peninsula's native population, the Tatars, being underrepresented because many of them live in small villages. On the other hand, no calls were placed in Sevastopol, the most pro-Russian city in Crimea. Even with these limitations, it was the most representative independent poll taken on the peninsula since its annexation."[153]


  Countries recognizing results of the Crimean referendum
Refat Chubarov, leader of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, commented decision of Supreme Council of Crimea. (Russian)

Most countries that have taken a position on the Crimean referendum have condemned it as a breach of Ukrainian sovereignty. Only a few countries, including Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and several breakaway states supported by Russia have endorsed the vote.


Supranational bodies

UN Security Council vote on a draft resolution condemning the 2014 Crimean referendum. ----
  Voted in favor of resolution
  Vetoed resolution

UN member states

Results of the United Nations General Assembly vote about the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  In favor   Against   Abstentions   Absent   Non-members

States with limited recognition

European political parties

Gábor Vona, leader of Hungary's Jobbik hailed the recent referendum in Crimea as "exemplary".[219] Members of Austria's populist, right wing Freedom Party of Austria,[220] the Flemish nationalist group Vlaams Belang and France's National Front pronounced the referendum free and fair.[221]


The next day after the referendum, the parliament of Crimea asked the Russian Federation "to admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic".[222] Later on the same day, 17 March, Putin issued a decree formally recognizing Crimea as an independent state.[223] On 18 March, the Russian, Crimean, and Sevastopolian leadership signed the Treaty on the Adoption of the Republic of Crimea to Russia,[224] which was ratified by the Russian Federal Assembly on 21 March.[225] A transition period is in force for integrating Crimean governmental institutions, ending on 1 January 2015.[226]

After the seizure of Ukrainian naval base at Feodosia on 24 March, Russian troops have seized most of Ukraine's military bases in Crimea. On the same day, the acting President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, ordered the withdrawal of Ukrainian armed forces from Crimean peninsula.[227]

Following the annexation of Crimea, according to report released on the Russian government run President of Russia's Council on Civil Society and Human Rights website, Tatars who were opposed to Russian rule have been persecuted, Russian law restricting freedom of speech has been imposed, and the new pro-Russian authorities "liquidated" the Kiev Patriarchate Orthodox church on the peninsula.[228] The Crimean Tatar television station was also shut down by the Russian authorities.[229]

Map denoting the subdivisions of Ukraine and the percentage of people that indicated Russian as their native language in the latest local census. Sevastopol identifies itself as the highest at 90.6% followed immediately by Crimea at 77.0%.

After the annexation, on 16 May the new Russian authorities of Crimea issued a ban on the annual commemorations of the anniversary of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatars by Stalin in 1944, citing "possibility of provocation by extremists" as a reason.[230] Previously, when Crimea was controlled by Ukraine, these commemorations had taken place every year. The pro-Russian Crimean authorities also banned Mustafa Dzhemilev, a human rights activist, Soviet dissident, member of the Ukrainian parliament, and former Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars from entering Crimea.[231] Additionally, Mejlis reported, that officers of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) raided Tatar homes in the same week, on the pretense of "suspicion of terrorist activity".[232] The Tatar community eventually did hold commemorative rallies in defiance of the ban.[231][232] In response Russian authorities flew helicopters over the rallies in an attempt to disrupt them.[233]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Morello; Constable; Faiola (2014) "[Mikhail Malyshev, the Crimean election Spokesman,] who spoke briefly Monday morning on Crimean television, said a total of 1,274,096 people voted, for an 83.1 percent turnout. Of those who cast a ballot, [sic] 1,233,002 voted to shift to Russia, 31,997 voted to stay with Ukraine, and 9,097 were in invalid, Malyshev said."[137]
  2. Crimean Parliament (2014; in Russian) "Вопрос, получивший большинство голосов, считается выражающим прямое волеизъявление населения Крыма."[69]
  3. Kolstø; Edemsky (1995) "On 5 May 1992 the Crimean parliament adopted a constitution plus a Declaration of Independence. [...] However, on the very next day, the parliament inserted a new sentence into the new constitution to the effect that the Crimean republic [was] a constituent part of the Ukrainian republic." p. 194[73]
  4. The Constitution of the Soviet Union did give the Republics of the Soviet Union the right to secede.[97]
  5. Urquhat; Williamson; Nelid (2014) "[Walker has] just come back from a rather bizarre "press conference" of international observers for the referendum. It was 45 minutes before there were any questions, as the six people present mainly went on political rants against US hegemony in the world."[121]
  6. Calculated as Total votes cast divided by Turnout


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