Crimea Prepares to Vote on Russian Secession, But Does It Matter?

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“Do you support reuniting Crimea with Russia, as a subject of the Russian Federation? Or, do you support the restoration of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine?” So reads the ballot that Crimean civilians will be voting on this coming Sunday, but with the international community and Ukraine having made clear their stance on the matter — that such a vote would be illegitimate — the vote loses a degree of significance. In preparation for a decision to secede from Ukraine, Crimea’s legislative body passed a “declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Vadim Karasyov, a political analyst in Kiev, told the Associated Press that the move was likely done as a signal to “the West that there is no talk about Russia incorporating Crimea,” and as a “tranquilizer for everybody — for the West and for many in Ukraine who are panicking.” In this way, he said, Crimea could remain a “quasi-legitimate” state while both Russia and the West discuss its future. The declaration stated that Crimea would become “a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic state,” hoping to smooth over concerns within the area that different ethnicities within could lead to division, according to Time.

The Crimean region has historically moved between Russian and Ukrainian membership, stretching back to Soviet Russia, and the population remains heavily comprised of those of Russian ethnicity. Many civilians are in favor of a reunion with their Soviet roots, though not all. Michail Malishev, head of the Crimean Electoral Commission, told CNN the commission has begun delivering referendum ballots.

Meanwhile, un-uniformed troops, believed to be Russian — though Russia still officially denies any involvement — are stationed in the region. The military force gained control amid Western and Ukrainian protests that the move constituted Russian invasion into the region. According to Time, Ukraine’s parliament votes Wednesday on whether or not to mobilize the Interior Ministry troops “to defend the country and citizens against any criminals, against external and internal aggression.”

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