Crimea referendum divides opinion in Ukraine

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Crimea referendum divides opinion in Ukraine

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A fast-track referendum on the status of Crimea is being welcomed in the region, home to an ethnic Russian majority.

Many residents in Simferopol say it is a chance to express their will.

“I personally have a very negative opinion towards the United States. You’ve seen how they have managed to put half of the world on their knees,” says one man.

“The only thing for us is to stay with Russia. Then we will have peace and prosperity.”

A woman in Simferopol adds: “I support the referendum but I haven’t decided what I am going to vote for.”

But in Kiev – the epicentre of opposition against deposed President Viktor Yanukovych – the referendum is being rejected.

“If there is a law in Ukraine which says the referendum should be on a national level, it should be national. If they want to decide on their own statutes, let them decide,” says one man in the capital.

“The major question is what Crimea wants, just to be under Russia or to change their lives for the better.”

Western critics say the referendum is illegitimate and will violate Ukraine’s constitution. It is the latest twist in the worst confrontation since the end of the Cold War.