The ballot for March 16 Crimean referendum gives two choices, to join Russia or become independent.
Voters in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea who vote in the March 16 referendum have two choices – join Russia immediately or declare independence and then join Russia.
So the choices are “yes, now” or “yes, later.”
Voting “no” is not an option.
The lack of choice wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with how Soviet or Russian elections are run.
The Crimean parliament released
the design of the ballot that will be used for the referendum, which will be taking place as thousands of Russian soldiers are in control and – it appears – Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the shots..
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has annulled the referendum as illegal and unconstitutional, but the pro-Kremlin Crimean authorities who took power on Feb. 27 do not recognize the legitimacy of central government and have said they will proceed with the vote.
The ballot asks two questions and leaves no option for a “no” vote. Voters are simply asked to check one of two boxes:
Do you support joining Crimea with the Russian Federation as a subject of Russian Federation?
Do you support restoration of 1992 Crimean Constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine?
That Constitution declares that Crimea is an independent state.
The questions are written in Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, the three most widely spoken languages on the peninsula, and the paper carries a warning in all three languages that marking both options will invalidate the ballot.
Volodymyr Yavorkiy, a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, says that not only is the referendum completely illegal, the ballot for it doesn’t stand up to any criticism.
“There is no option for ‘no,’ they are not counting the number of votes, but rather which one of the options gets more votes,” says Yavorskiy. “Moreover, the first question is about Crimea joining Russia, the second – about it declaring independence and joining Russia. In other words, there is no difference.”
He says with no choice available, “it’s clear what the result will be.”
Mykhailo Malyshev, head of the Crimean parliament’s commission on referendum, said the election will have 1,250 polling stations equipped with web cameras for the vote.
“We have a desire and preparations for installing web cameras at polling stations. They can play a great role during the vote, and if technically it is possible, the web cameras will be installed,” UNIAN news agency quoted him as saying.
The Central Election Commission, which has also said that the Crimean referendum is illegitimate, took an emergency decision on March 6 to close off the state register to all authorities of the autonomy. In its ruling, the commission said it was doing it “to protect the database of the State register of voters from unsanctioned use of personal data and unsanctioned access and abuse of access.”
Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org