SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, March 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
A group of international observers from Israel, Spain, Italy, USA, UK, Latvia, Moldova and Serbia, which were invited by the Central Electoral Commission of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, visited the largest cities of Crimea - Simferopol, Yalta, Evpatoria, Alushta, Saki, as well as many villages in the countryside.
All observers unanimously noted that the referendum was held in full compliance with international standards.
According to the Vice-President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Nenad Popovic, the "referendum was organized in a perfect manner," as evidenced by his meetings with heads of various electoral commissions as well as visits to several polling stations. He stressed that "all citizens of Crimea were given equal rights to participate in the referendum; the will of voters was free and democratic; and the voting procedure was completely transparent." Popovic thanked Crimean authorities for allowing "free and unrestricted access to polling stations for international observers."
Most members of the international group met with ordinary people on the streets in Crimea to get their opinion about the upcoming vote. A journalist from Israel, Sergei Podrozhansky, underlined that "I have not met any single person ready to vote against the annexation of Crimea to Russia."
American political advisor and writer, Srdzha Trifkovic further noted that "the fact itself of coming to Crimea indicates that international observers recognize the referendum as legitimate and valid and they are ready to confirm it again."
According to Mr Trifkovic, "people's right to self-determination prevails over the right of the state's territorial integrity."
Alessandro Bertoldi, an observer from Italy, commented on numerous statements by Western politicians about the "illegitimacy" of the referendum, by saying that "the right of nations to self-determination is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN."
Another Italian observer, Alessandro Musolino noted that, despite the critical reaction of the West concerning the Crimean referendum, "Europe should take into account the will of the people of Crimea, which was so clearly and unambiguously expressed in the referendum."
Member of Daugavpils' city council (Latvia), Yuri Zaitsev stated that "after the West's recognition of Kosovo's independence, the peaceful self-determination of the Crimean people is in line with the European approach." However, he stressed, that the people of Crimea, contrary to the people of Kosovo, "have decided their destiny by peaceful means." According to Zaitsev: "after recent events in Kiev and nationalist forces coming to power, the Crimean population felt that their peaceful life is threatened. That is why they turned towards Russia in believe that this country is able to protect them." He also added that he had no doubt in the legitimacy of the Crimean referendum.
A European journalist, Martin Banks (UK) had also noted that "in the face of what has turned out to be unfounded criticism and scepticism by the West, the people of Crimea have taken a decisive step towards determining their own future and the message from the vast majority who participated in the region's historic referendum is clear: Our destiny lies with Russia. Please respect our decision."
SOURCE Russian Community of Crimea