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Security tight in Crimea ahead of break-away vote

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Security tight in Crimea ahead of break-away vote

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In Crimea, security is tight a day before the region votes in a referendum to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

Berkut special forces remain on high alert, policing checkpoints across the peninsula.

Despite regional community divisions, Crimea has a narrow ethnic Russian majority many of whom favour joining Russia.

‘‘It feels as if everything is boiling inside me. My heart is beating hard for Russia, because Russia is a proud word. Russia!’‘ one woman said.

But many in Crimea also want to stay in Ukraine, especially the peninsula’s indigenous Tatar community who were brutally repressed under Stalin.

“We don’t want to live under Russian rule, we want to live in Ukraine. Ukraine is a democratic state, there is no democracy in Russia. We want to live freely, we want to be free, we don’t want to be slaves,” said one man.

Many Tatar leaders say they plan to boycott the vote, that has also not been internationally recognised.

But, despite the threat of potential Western sanctions, Moscow has said it will respect the will of the Crimean people.