“Citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol” are voting for the first time in the Russian presidential election on the fourth anniversary of the Black Sea Peninsula “reunification” with Russia, reports TASS News Agency, creating a special category for the inhabitants of the disputed territory, underlining the status of Republic within Russian Federation.
The turnout of Crimeans at polling stations is a crucial factor in defence of their right for exercising self-determination, enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
A total of 1,206 ballot stations are open in the Republic of Crimea and another 182 in Sevastopol. Construction workers who are building Kerch Strait Bridge, one of the longest in Europe (19 km), will also have an opportunity to cast their votes there.
Crimean officials said they are expecting 40 accredited observers. However among them there is no official delegation of the OSCE because there is no consensus among the members on Crimea issue. “The Parliamentary Assembly will be working closely with the mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), led by Ambassador Jan Petersen. ODIHR long-term observer mission for these elections has been present in the Russian Federation since 5 February,” the statement said. The report of the observers will be presented at a press conference in Moscow on March 19.
“The European Parliament will not observe this electoral process and consequently will neither comment on the process nor on the results that will be announced afterwards. No individual Member of the European Parliament has been mandated to observe or comment on this electoral process on its behalf” – said a statement issued by the co-chairs of the EP’s Democracy support and election coordination group MEPs McAllister and McAvan.
Apparently the EP and OSCE positions did not have a significant effect on opinion of Crimeans, showing high turnout at polling stations – by midday more than third of registered voters casted their ballots. “I’m absolutely sure in my choice, I’m proud of fulfilling my civil duty and voted for the strong president, for the strong country, for the future of our Motherland! Congratulations, dear Eupatorians!“ – wrote an official from local municipality Olesya Kharitonenko in her Twitter microblog. (Pictured).