About That 97%

Paul Roderick Gregory catches Russia’s Human Rights Council disputing the official results of the Crimean referendum, which claimed a 97 percent vote in favor of annexation and 83 percent turnout:

[A]ccording to a major Ukrainian news site, TSN.ua, the website of the President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights (shortened to President’s Human Rights Council) posted a report that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to this purported report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout of Crimean voters was only 30 percent. And of these, only half voted for the referendum–meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.

The TSN report does not link to a copy of the cited report. However, there is a report of the Human Rights Council, entitled “Problems of Crimean Residents,” still up on the president-sovet.ru website, which discusses the Council’s estimates of the results of the March 16 referendum. Quoting from that report: “In Crimea, according to various indicators, 50-60% voted for unification with Russia with a voter turnout (yavka) of 30-50%.” This leads to a range of between 15 percent (50% x 30%) and 30 percent (60% x 50%) voting for annexation. The turnout in the Crimean district of Sevastopol, according to the Council, was higher: 50-80%.

Ilya Somin corroborates Gregory and adds:

The Council report also discusses a number of troubling developments in Crimea since the Russian occupation began. For example, it states that the new authorities in Crimea have decided to “liquidate” the pro-Ukrainian Kiev Patriarchate Orthodox church in the region, details the persecution of Crimean Tatar groups opposed to Russia rule, and notes that Crimean journalists fear the “numerous restrictions” on freedom of speech and press imposed by Russian law.

It should be noted that the Council has long been one of the few Russian government agencies willing to criticize the government on human rights issues, but more recently many of the more liberal members of Council have resigned or been forced out.