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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 THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.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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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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musing259 March 16 2014 at 11:46 AM

There is no question that any country has the right of self-determination. The Continental Congress of the USA voted to separate from the United Kingdom.

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Kat4Hat March 16 2014 at 1:04 PM

The Guardian readers discussed this morning that the Ukrainian gold reserve was transferred to the U.S. It seems that Kiev government keeps making one mistake after the other: it seems that now Ukraine is truly bankrupt.

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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?

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WELCOME STEVE March 16 2014 at 1:00 PM

What do you expect when MOST of the population of the Crimea is ethnic Russian? How can anyone in the West say with a straight face that it is wrong to have a region voluntarily split off after a fair referendum? Oh, but wait a minute. Isn't that what the North did to the South in the War Between the States? The North refused to let the South secede. The US seems to have a long history of "do as I say and not as I do." Obama is going to go down in flames on this one. The Crimea will vote to join Russia.

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2 replies
maorenia WELCOME STEVE March 16 2014 at 1:11 PM

Is it true that America fought for independence from England when most Americans were ethnically English and spoke English language?

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vans346 WELCOME STEVE March 16 2014 at 1:16 PM

And they will vote that way because they ARE Russian. Stalin went in and murdered millions, stole the land by replaceing the dead with Russian citizens. They say that they want to go home to Russia! Good gather up all your crap and go back to Russia and leave the Ukraine.

Flag Reply +1 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
ocogbogu March 16 2014 at 9:27 AM

Remember the Alamo!!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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
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.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ajzz06 March 16 2014 at 1:29 PM

Who really cares about ANYTHING that happens over there. It will have zero affect or effect in one single aspect of my daily life! Worry more about what happens in our country and less about the insignificants!

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2 replies
kvave ajzz06 March 16 2014 at 1:33 PM

Because when it breaches the Security and Stability of Europe , it directly affects the West . Or dont you understand how the game works. YES it is a Game , of Global Chess

Flag Reply +2 rate up
shadowdew55 ajzz06 March 16 2014 at 1:45 PM

READ YOUR HISTORY...THATS WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID ABOUT HITLER...

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1 reply
kvave shadowdew55 March 16 2014 at 1:53 PM

As well as Stalin , MAO and many other expansionist Regimes Absolutely Correct

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maorenia March 16 2014 at 12:36 PM

Sevastopol is not Crimean capital! Simpheropol is! Check Wikipedia before writing an article! Sevastopol is a municipality excluded from Crimea as its territory is leased to Russian naval base! Most of people living there do not even have Ukrainian passports but encouraged to vote!

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