Ukraine: "Crimea referendum seems to be a foregone conclusion"

euronews (in English)
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Simona Voltam euronews: Joining us now from Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, is our correspondent Sergio Cantone.
Sergio, describe for us the atmosphere following the local parliament’s vote on independence from Kyiv and a few days before the referendum?

Sergio Cantone, euronews, Simferopol: “The result of this Sunday’s referendum is largely expected. Everybody is waiting for a historical decision: the split of Crimea from Ukraine. It’s impossible to speculate about the political future (of Crimea) but the result of the referendum, as I have said, is largely expected. I can tell you what we’ve seen since we arrived from Kyiv by train, because as you know flights from Kyiv are suspended. When we arrived, we went through security controls enforced by a so-called “self-defense group” organised by some volunteers. This check up especially concerned journalists. They held our colleagues from Al Jazeera, who travelled with us.”

en: You have mentioned these pro-Russian groups, but have you also seen any International observers on the streets of the Simferopol ahead of the vote?

SC: “Absolutely not. I have not seen them here. We have spoken to some people and we have really got the feeling that the international observers would not be welcome. According what I have heard, people feel they might disturb the referendum process.”

en: “How are the people of Crimea reacting to the fact that the international community already said that the result of this referendum will not be approved?”

SC: “They (the people in Simferopol) see this as a provocation of the Western countries, because they feel they do not want to accept the choice of most people in Crimea, who are willing to move somehow toward Russia, or, at least, to move away from Ukraine, especially after the Maidan revolution”