For an update on what is happening in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, we spoke with our correspondent there, Sergio Cantone.
We asked him to describe the atmosphere following the local parliament’s vote on independence from Kyiv, which came just a few days before the referendum?
Sergio Cantone, euronews: “The result of this Sunday’s referendum is largely expected. Everybody is waiting for a historic decision: the split of Crimea from Ukraine. It’s impossible to speculate about the political future (of Crimea) but the result of the referendum, as I have said, is largely expected.
“I can tell you what we’ve seen since we arrived from Kyiv by train, because as you know flights from Kyiv are suspended. When we arrived, we went through security controls enforced by a so-called “self-defense group” organised by some volunteers. The checks were especially focused on journalists. They detained our colleagues from Al Jazeera, who travelled with us.”
euronews: You have mentioned these pro-Russian groups, but have you also seen any International observers on the streets of the Simferopol ahead of the vote?
Sergio Cantone: “Absolutely not. I have not seen them here. Having spoken to some people here we really got the feeling that the international observers would not be welcome. According to what I have heard, people believe they might disturb the referendum process.”
*euronews: “How are the people of Crimea reacting to the fact that the international community has already said that the result of this referendum will not be approved?”
Sergio Cantone: “People in Simferopol see this as a provocation by Western countries, because they feel they do not want to accept the choice of most people in Crimea, who are willing to move toward Russia, or, at least, to move away from Ukraine, especially after the Maidan revolution”