The EU and US have both refused to recognise the referendum in Crimea, but the outcome, ‘Yes’ to joining Russia, seems a mere formality.
Despite accusations of widespread propaganda in the peninsula, Russian MP Leonid Slutsky, visiting the region as part of an observer mission, insisted it was about what Crimea wants.
‘‘We will be criticised internationally, but we are ready for that. We went through it with Chechnya when we restored constitutional order. The same when we recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence. Today, is about the free will of the Crimean people. This is about self-determination. What’s being done is based on that right,’‘ Slutsky said.
With large numbers of ethnic Russians in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Slutsky said there should be more understanding of their native traditions.
‘‘Russia supports both peace and religious tolerance in brotherly Ukraine. It is important no blood is shed.
‘‘It’s important those regions stay inside Ukraine, but Russian should be seen as a regional language, as laid out in the 2012 law,’‘ Slutsky added.
The new government in Kyiv says it still recognises Russian as a second language in its regions, but like the West it has slammed Sunday’s vote as illegal.