Crimeans await referendum seen as prelude for sovereignty
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - 01:30
March 5 - Residents in Crimea's Simferopol say the situation there remains calm ahead of a March 30 referendum that is seen as a prelude for leaving Ukraine. Nathan Frandino reports.
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With a strong Russian presence - and flag - lingering in the Crimean capital Simferopol, residents feel at ease.
As they walk through the city, a newspaper headline attempts to reassure peace.
"We don't shoot on our brothers" reads the headline under a photo of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers.
Now residents hope Crimea's March 30 referendum brings even more calm.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MAN IN THE STREET, VLADIMIR GONCHAROV, SAYING
"The situation is great, totally peaceful. The situation is developing towards a referendum because all Crimeans want that. Russians as well as Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars. In principle, naturally it is a reaction to the nightmare that took place in Kiev."
The vote, which is expected to make the peninsula sovereign, is widely seen as a prelude for separating from Ukraine.
It's also seen as a prelude to becoming a Russian protectorate.
Russian forces have seized airports and government buildings in the region.
Some residents welcome their presence.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WOMAN IN THE STREET, ALINA, SAYING:
"I think as long as Russia does not leave us, everything will be calm. And it will be great."
Still, tensions remain high in other parts of the region.
Russian navy ships have blockaded a harbor near Sevastopol, where two Ukrainian navy ships are docked.
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