On Sunday, resident’s of the Ukrainian region of Crimea will have to vote on a referendum brought forward by the leaders of the regional parliament. The controversial vote will force citizens to decide on the political autonomy of the region.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Crimean Voters Will Have to Decide on the Future of Crimea
Introduced into the Crimean parliament by ultra pro-Russian members of parliament, the referendum will ultimately transfer power over the region and the Black Sea to Russia, regardless of the outcome.
Elected in a closed secession of parliament, the new Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov assured the people of Crimea that there were enough armed personnel to assure the “safety” of the referendum, according to Reuters.
2. Neither Option is ‘No’
The New York Times reports that the two choices on the referendum will be the following:
1. Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?
2. Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?
Either choice would be a vote for increased Russian involvement in Crimea. Option 1 would make Crimea a part of the Russian Federation utterly forsaking Ukraine’s sovereignty and their possession of Crimea. Option 2 would, under the 1992 Constitution, make Crimea a fully-autonymous territory of Ukraine.
Reuters expects a majority of Crimeans to vote with Russia.
3. Voting Will Happen Under Russian Military Supervision
Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said that around 20,000 troops would be on the streets of Crimea, including 10,000 self-defense forces and 5,000 soldiers from the ministry of the interior. It is unclear if this number includes the Russian forces now stationed in Crimea, which may be up to 25,000.
4. The UN Has Called the Referendum Illegal
The acting Ukrainian Prime Minster in Kiev, along with the United Nations, has dismissed the referendum as illegal. However, Russia, as one of the permanent members of the security counsel, vetoed the resolution for the referendum to be officially designated as illegal. China, a close ally of Russia, abstained.
5. The referendum Has Led to Clashes
The vote has triggered violent clashes along eastern Ukraine as pro-Russia and pro-Euromaidan clashes as people from both sides to take to the streets. On Friday at least 2 people were killed in civilian clashes in Ukraine.