Billboards go up in Crimean capital to advertise independence referendum
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 01:44
March 12 - Newly erected Billboards in Crimea's capital are advertising the March 16 independence referendum that will decide whether the region should join Russia. Mana Rabiee reports.
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In the Crimean capital Sevastopol workers are busy.
They're putting up billboards for a big referendum on March 16.
Residents of this mostly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine have two choices.
Do they become sovereign, but maintain ties with Ukraine's new Western-allied government in the capital Kiev?
Or do they secede altogether, and join Russia, which gave Crimea to Ukraine in the 1950's?
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SEVASTOPOL RESIDENT, IVAN KOMILOV, SAYING:
"This is the reaction of Sevastopol people to the armed coup which took place in Ukraine recently. And those fascist forces who rule in Kiev."
The Pro-Russian billboards are easy to spot and not subtle.
They compare the government in Kiev to Nazis.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SEVASTOPOL RESIDENT, TATIANA VALINTENKO, SAYING:
"I can only be in favor of billboards telling us that fascism should not enter here. We see what is happening in Kiev."
But not everyone wants Ukraine split.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SIMFEROPOL RESIDENT, GALINA PAVLOVNA, SAYING:
"No. No separation should be possible. Because we can only win if united. If we divide, we will all perish."
People here say the referendum is pretty much a done deal.
Pro-Ukrainian billboards are hard to find… and not terribly missed.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CRIMEAN RESIDENT, IRINA, SAYING:
"There were some posters, but they are gone with the wind."
The referendum's outcome may not even matter.
The regional assembly passed a resolution Tuesday saying Crimea will be sovereign, cut its ties with Kiev and join Russia anyway.
Crimea seems fixed on a course, and could formalize Moscow rule within days.
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