“About 58 percent of persons in Crimea are ethnic Russians. And our sociology says that approximately 50 percent of Ukrainians want to join Russia and some 38 percent of Crimean Tatars want it as well,” he said adding that the referendum was conducted transparently and fairly.
His comments are in strict contrast, however, to those in the Crimean Tatar community, who have said they will boycott the referendum as it does not include an option to keep the status quo. Several the Kyiv Post spoke with over the past two weeks in several cities and villages across Crimea told stories of intimidation at the hands of pro-Russian militia units, and said that some within their communities have already fled the Black Sea peninsula for mainland Ukraine, seeking safe harbor in Kyiv and western cities such as Lviv and Ternopil.
Temirgaliyev also posed this rhetorical question to journalists: “Why does the United States and international community say the independence of Kosovo was legal but prohibit us to do the same?”