17 March 2014
A Crimean Tatar official has claimed that possible irregularities were observed during the region’s referendum on Sunday.
Zair Smedlayev, chairman of the electoral campaign of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, said officials failed to check carefully whether voters’ names were on the electoral register.
Smedlayev also claimed that some voters were bussed in to Bakhchysarai city in central Crimea to increase participation rates in the referendum.
Russian flags have been hoisted over official buildings in Simferopol, including the prime minister’s office and parliament.
Crimean Tatars have boycotted the referendum; only Russians and Ukrainians cast ballots in Crimea’s Tatar-dominated Chistinkaya district on whether the region should join Russia or stay as part of Ukraine.
The presiding officer at Simferopol’s Chistinkaya School, Ala Federova told Anadolu Agency that only a few Tatars cast ballots in the region.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Crimean Tatar leader, Mustafa Kirimoglu, on Sunday in Turkey’s coastal province of Izmir.
The Turkish PM expressed concern over increased tension in the region, adding that Turkey was making an effort to protect Crimean Tatars and avoid conflict in the region.
Before heading to Turkey, Kirimoglu told Anadolu Agency that 99 percent of Crimean Tatars had boycotted the vote.
Polls closed at 2000 Turkish time. Early exit polls have indicated a high turnout, with one local election official claiming that it was the highest of any contest in Crimea's history.
Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported that 93% of votes cast were in favor of union with Russia.