3:27 pm, March 18: 【Tatar concerns 】
Chubarov Refat, Chairman of the Krimean Tatar Meglis, a Tatar community organization in Crimea, spoke to the media on March 17 in Simferopol, Crimea to explain the stance of the Tatar comunity on the Crimean referendum. Photo: Li Qian/GT9:13 pm, March 17: 【Russian flags flutter in Sevastopol】
Refat said the meglis doesn't interfere with people's rights to vote and respect everyone's will in the voting, but he is concerned that the Tartars, as a small population in the region, will be overwhelmed in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. That is why they advocated non-participation in the referendum. He said the referendum should be supervised by the international community in order to ensure its legitimacy, but that this hadn’t been the case under the current situation. Refat added the community have been using the mosques to educate young Tartars not to be seduced by radical ideas and to keep their distance from terrorist forces.
In Sevastopol, the Black Sea coastal city where the Russian fleet is based, enthusiastic members of pro-Russian party Soyuz Party chant slogans while Russian flags flutter in the wind on Nahimov Square on March 17. Photo: Li Qian/GT6:15 am, March 17: 【Crimean leader weighs the benefits of joining Russia】
Vladimir Diyuk, council head of Gvardeyskoye, Ukraine’s most populated township, in his office on March 16. Photo: Li Qian/GT
As Crimeans cast their votes on a referendum to secede from the Ukraine, local pro-Russian leaders in the Crimea are busily extolling the many benefits of joining the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Diyuk, council head of Gvardeyskoye, Ukraine’s most populated township located about 20 kilometers north of Simferopol, ticked off a number of benefits that await Crimeans if they vote to leave the Ukraine for Russia during an interview at his office on March 16.
Crimea would be allowed to spend more tax revenue locally, as Russia would require 50 percent of tax revenue be handed to the central government, instead of the current 75 percent.
Also, average income would double in Crimea, matching the current average in Russia, while fuel costs such as natural gas would be made available 30 percent cheaper if the region joins Russia.
When asked about his concerns over the possibility of increased tensions in Crimea following the referendum, Diyuk expressed confidence.
“With the support from Russia, there is nothing we are afraid of,” Diyuk said.
9:09 pm, March 16: 【Nearly half of Crimea voters have cast their ballots as of 3 pm】
By about 3 pm local time, 44.27 percent of the voting population have cast their ballots, according to the Crimean republican election committee. Voting concludes at 8 pm.
7:49 pm, March 16 【Crimea votes as Russian, Ukrainian troops stand watch】
Russian soldiers and a military vehicle are stationed outside a Ukrainian infantry facility in Simferopol on March 16. Photo: Li Qian/GT （More Photos）The referendum to decide whether Crimea will break away from Ukraine began at 8 am, March 16 and will end at 11 pm (local time).
7:48 pm, March 16: 【Global Times reporter Li Qian on site for Crimea referendum】
About 20 percent of those eligible have cast their votes as of 10 am for what has shaped up as a sizeable turnout considering the rainy weather.6:30 pm, March 16: 【Crimea votes as pro-Russian troops occupy parliament building】
A man holds a sign that identifies him as a pro-Russian voter at Lenin Square in Simferopol, capital of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea on March 16, 2014. Crimea held a referendum on March 16 to decide whether it will break away from Ukraine, the result of which will be announced on March 17. Photo: Li Qian/GT （More Photos)Read more in Special Coverage:
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China hopes parties in Ukraine can take peaceful means under the legal framework and settle differences through political consultation.
An objective, balanced and impartial stance must be taken by the international community to help restore political and social stability in Ukraine.
The (Ukrainian) opposition cannot or do not want to distance itself from extremists. The West led by Europe and the United States (should) assume all responsibility for the Ukraine situation.
Maintaining communication channels and being willing to make compromises are more necessary then ever. The basis of all political decisions must be the upholding of Ukraine's territorial integrity and national unity.
The violence in Ukraine should end immediately and any further escalation should be avoided.
All the restrictive measures will be imposed in the next hours.
Washington warned Yanukovych against resorting to the military to solve the conflict and asked him to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kiev and resolve the conflict by political means.
Global Times editorial
What they will likely do is continue fighting for their selfish political interests in the name of justice. A country, in particular a large or medium-sized one with a huge population, should learn how to carry out real reform, which constitutes the foundation for them to enjoy democracy and prosperity.
The current scenario in Ukraine can barely be stopped by internal powers because its destiny seems to already be in the control of foreign forces. For the well-being of Ukrainians, we must focus on the efforts to maintain a peaceful and unified country instead of talking about where it will head to in the future. Western countries will not invest too much in Ukraine's peaceful transition because they could hardly gain any interest by maintaining its stability.
Anatoly Adamishin, former Russian deputy foreign minister
From Russia's point of view, leaders of the opposition in Ukraine became more aggressive after their meeting with Western politicians in Berlin, because they obviously have seen support from the West that gave them more courage or even recklessness.
Timofei Bardachev, director of the Center for European Studies at the High School of Economics in Russia
Though Moscow has been heavily engaged on the diplomatic front tackling Ukraine's integration into the European Union (EU) last year, the current situation makes it cautious not to take hasty steps.
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