In mid-March, a ludicrous majority of Crimea voters — 96.77% — voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. A new draft report from the United Nations, acquired by Column Lynch at Foreign Policy, explains why that majority may have been so large. Unsurprisingly, it all comes back to Russia.
The draft report, written by U.N. Assistant secretary general for human rights Ivan Simonovic, uncovered widespread reports of foul play the day of the referendum.
Here’s what the Simonovic wrote in the report (via Foreign Policy):
The delegation met with sources who claimed that there had been alleged cases of non-Ukrainian citizens participating in the referendum as well as individuals voting numerous times in different locations … Preliminary findings, based on publicly available information as well as reports from civil society representatives in Crimea, suggest that the referendum on March 16 raised a number of concerns in terms of respect for human rights.
The report also found the intimidating climate in Crimea at the time of the referendum seriously calls into question the legitimacy of the vote.
Ten days before the referendum, according to the report, Ukrainian television channels were shut off in Crimea and replaced with Russia TV channels that supported secession. These broadcasts exaggerated reports of anti-Russian violence in other parts of Ukraine, according to the UN report.
In addition, the report concludes that “the presence of paramilitary and so-called self-defence groups … widely believed to be from the Russian Federation, was not conducive to an environment in which voters could freely exercise their right … to freedom of expression.”
Notably, Simonovic did not conclude that the results of the referendum would have been different if Russia hadn’t tried to influence the vote.
The U.N. report will be released to the public when it is presented to the Security Council on April 15th.
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