More Than 90% of Crimeans Vote for Secession

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 16 2014 5:12 PM

More Than 90% of Crimeans Vote for Secession

479142603-pro-russian-crimeans-gather-to-celebrate-in-simferopols
Pro-Russian Crimeans gather to celebrate in Simferopol's Lenin Square on Sunday

Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Crimeans have voted and, as expected, it wasn’t even close. After 50 percent of the ballots were counted, the head of the referendum committee said more than 95 percent had voted to join Russia, reports the Associated Press. Earlier, Russian state media had reported on exit polls that claimed around 93 percent of Crimean voters chose to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Citing data from the Crimean Institute of Political and Sociological Research, RIA Novosti reports that only seven percent of voters chose to remain an autonomous republic within Ukraine.

Crowds of voters gathered in Simferopol to celebrate, reports the BBC. The final results are likely to take a day or two, notes Reuters. But that wasn't stopping Crimea’s pro-Russian leader who said he would apply to join Russia tomorrow. "The Supreme Soviet of Crimea will make an official application for the republic to join the Russian Federation at a meeting on March 17," he wrote on Twitter.

Advertisement

In Crimea, it was as if the pro-Russian crowds had already won even before a single vote was counted as Russian flags were flown throughout the region. Even though some had vowed to boycott, voters appeared to turn out in large numbers and the Crimean election commission reported a turnout of around 75 percent, which would be far above the 50 percent needed to make the referendum binding, reports the Associated Press. “This has never happened before in any other election” in Crimea, said a senior election official, Mikhail Malyshev, at a news conference.

At the ballot box, voters faced two options, either uniting with Russia or giving the region greater autonomy to choose its own path, which could eventually include closer relations with Moscow anyway. The vote came after “a hasty and one-sided campaign that featured intimidation and heavy-handed tactics blocked most voters from hearing a vision for any alternative other than unification with Russia,” reports the Washington Post.

The Ukrainian government in Kiev, as well as the West in general, has said the referendum is illegal. Sanctions against Russia now seem all but inevitable as concern grows the vote “could encourage rising pro-Russian sentiment in Ukraine's east and lead to further divisions in this nation of 46 million,” notes AP. For now, Russia and Ukraine have apparently agreed to a truce in Crimea until March 21, reports the Guardian. "No measures will be taken against our military facilities in Crimea during that time," Ukraine’s acting defense minister, Igor Tenyukh, said.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?