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Mon, 17 Mar, 2014 12:01:52 AM
95.5% say yes to joining Russia in Crimea referendum
Expatriate Ukrainians in Helsinki protest Russian occupation
FTimes-Xinhua-STT Report, March 17
 
President Sauli Niinistö. Photo – Lehtikuva.
The President, Sauli Niinistö and Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy during Sunday’s discussion on the situation in Ukraine strongly condemned the referendum and termed it illegal.
 
“The situation in Ukraine is of utmost concern. The referendum that is held in Crimea today is against the Ukrainian constitution and, as such, illegal - it will only aggravate the situation further,” said an official press release after the meeting.
 
The meeting also decided that Finland will participate in the European Union's decision-making concerning the measures that were outlined at the meeting of EU Heads of State or Government on 6 March 2014.
 
According to the meeting, Finland considers it essential that the crisis be resolved in accordance with international law and through negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, if necessary within a multilateral framework, and with due respect to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
 
Bahchisrajn voters to cast their votes in the village in the Crimea in Ukraine on Sunday. Photo – Lehtikuva.
Meanwhile, the expatriate Ukrainians in Helsinki on Sunday afternoon staged demonstration in front of the Senate square protesting the referendum and the Russian occupation in their country, reported news agency STT.
 
Around twenty protesters participated in the demonstration and demanded immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the country. 
 
The demonstration passed off peacefully, according to police sources.
 
News Agency Xinhua reports: By halfway tally, Sunday's Crimea referendum has polled 95.5 per cent of approval for reunification with Russia, 3.5 percent in favour of staying with Ukraine with increased autonomy, according to official sources.
 
Mikhail Malyshev, chairman of the commission preparing and holding the All-Crimea Referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, told the press that with 50 percent of votes already tallied, 95.5 percent are in favour of joining Russia, 3.5 percent want to stay with Ukraine and the remaining 1 percent of votes were invalid.
 
Ukrainian Association organized a demonstration in Helsinki Senate Square protesting Russian occupation and referendum. Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
Earlier, Malyshev told the press that the final turnout rate for the 2014 referendum was 82.71 percent.
 
The 2014 referendum was conducted on Sunday from 0800 to 2000 local time, with 1,205 polling stations collecting votes cast by some 1.52 million registered voters.
 
An exit poll, commissioned by the Kryminform news service and conducted by the Crimean Republic Institute for Political and Social Studies, found 93 percent of voters in favour of reunifying with Russia and 7 percent preferring to stay with Ukraine on condition that the 1992 Crimean constitution be restored for greater autonomy.
 
Final results of the 12-hour plebiscite are expected to come out overnight, with a possible official announcement some time on Monday.
 
Crimeans in Simferopol and Sevastopol were seen already waiting for celebrations of the referendum outcome.
 
Most, when asked, expressed their confidence that this third referendum in the history of the peninsula would direct them "home" to Russia.
 
The peninsula, historically part of the Russian Federation, was transferred to Ukraine in May 1954, then a republic of the Soviet Union.
 
In 1992, the Crimean Supreme Council (parliament) declared independence in May pending a referendum which was called off by the Ukrainian authorities.
 
 
The same supreme council decided on March 6 this year to hold the peninsula's third referendum which was originally scheduled for March 30 after the Ukrainian authorities decided to annul Russian as the official language in the peninsula.
 
The Crimean Supreme Council passed a resolution of declaration of independence on March 11 to pave the way for Sunday's referendum.
 
Although the 2014 Crimea referendum was still in process and results might take hours of processing before coming out, Crimeans in the capital city of the peninsula were already seen streaming toward the central city square for celebration.
 
The Lenin Square, close by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) administration and Crimean parliament, was full of ARC and Russian flags with St. George Ribbons scattering around.
 
Crimeans were waiting for the kick-off of their celebration for the conclusion and outcome of the 2014 referendum which, 10 hours into the plebiscite, has chalked a turnout rate of 79.09 percent.
 
The peninsula had been controlled by the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th century, and became part of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1991. 
 
In 1992, the Crimean Supreme Council (parliament) declared independence in May pending a referendum which was called off by the Ukrainian authorities.
 
Crimea held two other referendums in 1991 and 1994, testing voters' preference for a greater autonomy within Ukraine or uniting with Russia.
 
The same supreme council decided on March 6 this year to hold the peninsula's third referendum which was originally scheduled for March 30. It was after the Ukrainian authorities decided to annul Russian as the official language in the peninsula.
 
The Crimean Supreme Council passed a resolution of declaration of independence on March 11 to pave the way for Sunday's referendum.
 
 
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