The Current

Crimeans happy about union with Russia, polls find

One year after Russia's Vladimir Putin pulled Crimea back under the purview of his government, polling data shows the majority of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians living there like this turn of events. So, was it an act of repression, or a welcome succession?
A woman holds a USSR naval flag during a rally marking the first anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea, in central Sevastopol on March 16, 2015. (Reuters/Pavel Rebrov)
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One year after Russia's Vladimir Putin pulled Crimea back under the purview of his government, polling data shows the majority of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians living there like this turn of events. So, was it an act of repression, or a welcome succession?

The official vote tally from a hastily arranged referendum was overwhelming — 95 per cent in Moscow's favour — confirming suspicions in the West that the vote was undemocratic, and merely a fig leaf for the forgone conclusion of Russian annexation. 
    
But one year on, a host of new public opinion polls inside Crimea, shows residents there are happy with the turn of events and their return to Russia. In Moscow, those opinion poll results will come as a vindication: that Crimeans welcomed their annexation, and that Russia had a duty to support the region's ethnic Russians.

Over the weekend, a new documentary that aired inside Russia added a new twist to the story of annexing Crimea: president Vladimir Putin revealed he was ready to put his country's nuclear weapons on alert, if that's what it took. 

Today we're asking whether we should re-think the Crimean story in the West — based in part on the voices of Crimean people glad to be part of Russia. 

We were joined by:

John O'Loughlin is a professor of Geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the principal investigator of a public opinion survey in Crimea.

Piotr Dutkiewicz is a professor of political science at Carleton University and the co-author of Eurasian Integration: The View from Within.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Sujata Berry.