International observer in Crimea receives death threats

Johan Bäckman
Johan Bäckman

An international observer from Finland, who sees the referendum on the status of Crimea as absolutely legitimate, has received death threats.

A referendum is due to be held in Crimea on the status of the peninsula tomorrow, on Sunday, March 16, so on Saturday, any campaigning is banned there. An ad-hoc commission is due to see to it that this is strictly observed.

Meanwhile, an international monitor from Finland, Johan Bäckman, has complained at Simferopol airport of pressure that has been brought to bear on him and his colleagues, and also said he’d received death threats, because he supports the referendum.

“It’s all threats and slander. I received a letter with death threats earlier today”, Bäckman said. “The letter is anonymous. The Western media are full of aggression against Russia. I can’t really make out the position of the West that the referendum is allegedly in breach of international law”.

He said the residents of Crimea have every right to determine their future. The US and the European Union are bending every effort to have the referendum cancelled, and are threatening with sanctions. That the EU is considering sanctions is absolutely absurd.

Bäckman said the attempts of western politicians to stop or cancel the referendum are prompted by their desire to downgrade Russia’s authority.

The All-Crimea plebiscite is due on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. The minimum voter turnout to consider the referendum valid is 50%. International observers keep arriving in Crimea to monitor the plebiscite.The international observer stressed that he sees the referendum on the status of Crimea as absolutely legitimate.

The situation in Crimea is calm, Deputy of the Belgian parliament Frank Creelman, who arrived to monitor the referendum to be held on March 16, said on Saturday. Everything is very calm and normal, absolutely not the way it is being pictures abroad, he said.

There are many pro-Russian people among residents and many law enforcement officers are at streets, Creelman said.

Creelman said he intended to monitor the referendum on the status of Crimea not just in Simferopol but in relatively small Crimean settlements as well.

The former Republican congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has launched a scathing attack on what he calls a US-backed coup in Ukraine, insisting the Crimean people have the right to align their territory with Moscow and characterising sanctions against Russia as “an act of war”.

“The evidence is pretty clear that the NGOs [non-governmental organisations] financed by our government have been agitating with billions of dollars, trying to get that government changed,” he said. “Our [American] hands are not clean.”

Voice of Russia, Interfax, Life News, The Guardian