News / Europe

No Room for 'Nyet' in Ukraine's Crimea Vote to Join Russia

A flower vendor walks downtown Simferopol, Ukraine, March 9, 2014.
A flower vendor walks downtown Simferopol, Ukraine, March 9, 2014.
Sunday's vote in Ukraine's Crimea is being officially billed as a chance for the peninsula's peoples to decide fairly and freely their future - but in fact there is no room on the ballot paper for voting “Nyet” to control by Russia.
The Crimean voter will have the right to choose only one of two options in the March 16 referendum which the region's pro-Russian leadership, protected by Russian forces, announced earlier this month.
According to a format of the ballot paper, published on the parliament's website, the first question will ask: “Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?”
The second asks: “Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?”
At first glance, the second option seems to offer the prospects of the peninsula remaining within Ukraine.
But the 1992 national blueprint - which was adopted soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union and then quickly abolished by the young post-Soviet Ukrainian state - is far from doing that.
This foresees giving Crimea all the qualities of an independent entity within Ukraine - but with the broad right to determine its own path and choose relations with whom it wants - including Russia.
With the pro-Russian assembly already saying it wants to return Crimea to Russia, this second option only offers a slightly longer route to shifting the peninsula back under Russian control, analysts say.
The option of asking people if they wish to stick with the status quo - in which Crimea enjoys autonomy but remains part of Ukraine - is not on offer.
Any mark in one of the boxes is regarded as a “Da” vote. Ballot papers will be regarded as spoiled if a voter fills in both boxes or indeed does not fill in either.
Those who stay away will also not influence the outcome, since the result will simply be based on the option preferred by a majority of those voting.
No option
“Even if it [the referendum] were legitimate, the two choices presented to Crimean voters offer them no option for leaving Russian control,” wrote Keir Giles of the London-based Chatham House.
“The restoration of this [1992] constitution would be a step towards notional independence under Russian control... Those citizens who were content with Crimea remaining part of Ukraine on the same basis as it has been for the last 20 years do not have a voice in this referendum. There is no third option available.”
The Black Sea territory, which was under Russian rule for centuries and gifted to Ukraine by then-Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, has an ethnic Russian majority population which appears to ensure the vote will be valid on Sunday.
The vote will take place against the backdrop of a pro-Russia billboard campaign showing two maps and visions of Crimea - one covered in a Russian flag, the other with a giant black swastika emblazoned across it.
In Sevastopol, a Soviet World War II “hero city” where part of the Russian Black Sea fleet is based, another placard urges people to vote to stop fascism, suggesting the vote was a way of stopping Ukraine's far-right radicals coming to power.
Election officials sought to project the impression of Crimea's peoples - who include the indigenous Tatars as well as Ukrainians - being offered a real choice. The ballot paper on the web site was in Ukrainian and Tatar as well as Russian.
Valery Medvedev, the Russian-born chairman of Sevastopol's electoral commission, used a news conference to announce how he  would vote.
“We're living through historic times. Sevastopol would love to fulfil its dream of joining Russia. I want to be part of Russia and I'm not embarrassed to say that,” he told reporters.
Medvedev said the vote would be fair, however. People only had to answer one question in the referendum, he added, before correcting himself to say there were in fact two questions. “Either to be with Russia or to be with Ukraine,” he said.

You May Like

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs