MOSCOW (Reuters) - The director of a pro-Kremlin vote monitoring agency which sent observers to Scotland’s referendum denounced the result on Friday, saying Scots were pressured into rejecting independence to avoid comparisons with Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine.
“All strength and resources were thrown into preventing Scotland from splitting, and people were de facto threatened that if they secede...there will be all sorts of troubles,” said Georgy Fyodorov, head of a Russian vote monitoring group.
“This influenced the decisive votes,” Fyodorov said, adding that although the campaign was roughly in line with local laws, it was faulty. Fyodorov also said his three observers in Scotland had doubts over vote counting in some small polling stations that he said were run by supporters of the union.
Russian media had closely followed preparations for the Scottish vote, comparing them to referendums held in Crimea, before the Ukrainian territory’s annexation by Russia, and in eastern Ukraine, known as the Donbass region.
Neither vote was recognised as legitimate by the West, but for many in Russia, a Scottish “Yes” vote would have been seen as legitimising separatist sentiments in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev accuses Russia of fanning violence.
“The British monarchy would not be able to recognise (a “yes” vote in Scotland) because then they would have to recognise that residents of Donbass want to split and they would have to recognise the Crimea referendum,” Fyodorov told Reuters.
Residents of Crimea voted in March to join Russia, and the Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk held a referendum in May which vote organisers said showed that most wanted self-rule.
The international community refused to recognise the votes over numerous violations, and the West blames Moscow for fanning the violence in Ukraine. The Kremlin denies that and says the West uses double standards vis-a-vis Russia.
Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Dominic Evans