Crimea’s reunification with Russia was a consequence of provocative actions of Ukrainian radicals during Euromaidan, Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovich told a news conference on Friday.
“The Crimean developments are the result of Maidan provocations,” he said. “There would have been no referendum (in Crimea on reunification with Russia) but for Maidan provocations.”
However, he said he is negative about Crimea’s separation from Ukraine but noted these developments were no surprise for him.
Thus, he said he was kept informed what radicals did against Crimean residents who had arrived in Kiev on the Euromaidan days to stage peace rallies in support of the interests of Crimea’s Russian-speaking population. “Eight buses with people from Crimea came under gunfire. Then, these buses were set on fire. After the fuel tank of one of the buses exploded, radicals in face masks began to ‘hunt’ fleeing people. Those who managed to return home after that told the rest what ‘Maidan’ is fraught with for Crimea,” Yanukovich said.
The former president also recalled the so-called ‘friendship train’ with radicals who headed for Crimea in February-March to stage provocations.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.
Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union have been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.