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Crimea votes on whether to secede from Ukraine

Crimean Referendum: What Happens If Crimea Joins Russia
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) -- Residents of Ukraine's Crimea region voted on Sunday in a contentious referendum on whether to split off and seek annexation by Russia.

The vote is regarded as illegitimate both by the acting Ukrainian government and by the West, but is widely expected to pass. Crimea is predominantly ethnic Russian, and its residents say they fear the government that took over when pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last month will oppress them.

Since Yanukovych fled to Russia, Crimea has come under control of local militia forces, as well as heavily armed troops under apparent command from Moscow.

On Saturday, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces backed by helicopter gunships and armored vehicles had advanced about 6 miles (10 kilometers) over the Crimean border into another Ukrainian region, where they took control of a village that holds a natural gas distribution facility.

If the referendum passes, Russia faces the prospect of sanctions from Western nations, but Moscow has vigorously resisted calls to pull back in Crimea.

In Sevastopol, the Crimean capital where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based under a lease agreement with Ukraine, enthusiasm for the referendum was high with voters lining up outside polling stations before they opened.

"Today is an important day for all Crimea, Ukraine and Russia," said voter Manita Meshchina. "I think that people are expecting the majority of people will vote `yes.' What it means is that people believe and think they need to be with Russia."

In Sevastopol, more than 70 people surged into a polling station within the first 15 minutes of voting.

"Today is a holiday," said one of them, 66-year-old Vera Sverkunova. Asked how she voted, she broke into a patriotic war song: "I want to go home to Russia, it's been so long since I've seen my mama."

--

Dalton Bennett in Sevastopol and Jim Heintz in Kiev contributed to this story.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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Kevin Caldwell March 16 2014 at 8:46 AM

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

Whatever, stay out of it.

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ocogbogu March 16 2014 at 9:27 AM

Remember the Alamo!!!!

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1 reply
pmurrayr ocogbogu March 16 2014 at 9:48 AM

wasn't that a defeat and everyone died there?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
quezon7 March 16 2014 at 10:33 AM

The whole idea of Ukraine being taken over by anti Russian oligarchs, thugs, foreign powers and operatives in masks and Parliament is a disaster waiting to happen, when this group is seeking to become a NATO member and get Euro financing.

I'm trying to envision Russia running a coup in Cuba or Mexico or Bermuda and creating a Soviet war Pact like NATO in the Caribbean. It's absolutely unrealistic to think that you would allow your geo strategic competitor and for enemy to basically build an annex onto your house in your yard.

Imagine your neighbor from across town who hates you for decades getting approval to buy your unimproved land attached to your house, and claim it through eminent domain laws, or adverse possession laws.

What would possess Westerners and billionaire 'oligarchs' to believe that Russia would welcome former bureaucrats, turned billionaires to facilitate NATO expansion onto the nearest launch site to Russia?

Just seems like an agenda that is on a clear collision course. How is it ok to create a violent coup by masked men, but not recognize unmasked Ukrainians to vote to secede from a country recently captured in a coup by anti-Russian masked men?

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sasha March 16 2014 at 11:20 AM

Guess there are many who want back into the good old days of totalitarianism. Too bad that so many will benefit not at all from this. Crimea is poor, as is most of Russia. Better than Ukraine?

I am hoping the oligarchs who have helped Putin achieve the power he has are stripped of their US visas and sent home.

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1 reply
jeffreysneller sasha March 16 2014 at 11:48 AM

Not all Russian are poor. Putin has become one of the richest men in the world. I wonder how that happened on a President's salary. By the way, the dirty little secret about Crimea is the recent discovery of a massive oil shale reserve. More money for Putin and the Oligarchs who support him.

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rlroaddog March 16 2014 at 7:52 AM

wake me up when its over

Flag Reply +1 rate up
frozenbull March 16 2014 at 7:41 AM

So what your saying is, Putin will soon have his way and the West will have done nothing . I'm not an expert on foreign policy ,but it sounds like he won and we lost . Now for the rest of Ukraine .

Flag Reply +4 rate up
wittlief March 16 2014 at 11:16 AM

Why does the AOL homepage have a photo
Of Johnathan Winters
In a dress
Voting?!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
danbol1237 March 16 2014 at 9:02 AM

If you look at a map all the Russian natural gas and oil pipe lines run through the western Ukraine. All they have to do is shut them off to punish the Russians. They won't because these pipelines also supply the gasoline that runs Ukrainian cars, and the natural gas that heats Ukrianian homes. Yet they want the USA to make sacrifices to solve this.

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Bill March 16 2014 at 11:13 AM

Maybe some of these areas are beginning to think that they would be better protected from neighboring "extremists" (can't write which type or post will be deleted) as part of Russia. They certainly will not get help from anywhere else.

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1 reply
robertpsly Bill March 16 2014 at 11:22 AM

Speaking of un-named extremists... did anyone else notice AOL's cover photo on the missing plane
story today? Am I the only one that found the person in the foreground of the photo interesting?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
MarPatalinjug March 16 2014 at 8:21 AM

Yonkers, New York
16 March 2014

More likely than not, by a big Majority in the Referendum today, Sunday, Crimea will vote to get annexed by Russia.

A big majority of Crimea's people happen to be ethnic Russians,and this , expectedly, is the main reason for the outcome of the Referendum.

In the event, Russia's annexation of Crimea will be a fait accompli. And there is nothing the United States and Europe can do to undo it.

Those serious economic and political Sanctions against Russia will probably be imposed as threatened by the US and Europe. As promised by V. Putin, Russia has threatened to retaliate in kind.

But the reality is that i n a back-and-forth involving sanctions,Russia will end up the loser. In the event, its annexation of Crimea might yet prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Mariano Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

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