Crimea Returns to Russia, March 16, 2014

Seven years ago, the citizens of Crimea decided in a referendum to rejoin Russia. Turonout was 83,1%, and 87.77% voted Yes to joining Russia.
There’s a nice document on the website of the Republic of Crimea looking into the legal aspects and the legality of this referendum.
Some of the key points:

  • Coup d’état on February 23, 2014 removed the constitutional order of Ukraine and the constitution was set aside;
  • Crimea continued to be governed by a locally elected legal government;
  • Crimea had a special legal status, and remained in Ukraine after 1991 only due to a legal compromise, which required a legal, democratically elected government in Kiew. The coup d’état destroyed that;
  • There were threats of violence and ethnic cleansing against the population of Crimea (65% Russian and 13% Crimean Tatars);
  • Action of Crimean government was founded in law and thus legal;
  • Sevastopol was not part of Crimea since Oct. 29, 1948 and was a legal subject of the Russian SFSR;
  • Transfer of Crimea from Russian SFSR to Ukraine in 1954 was illegal under the then constitutions of the USSR, Russian SFSR and Ukraine;
  • Sevastopol’s transfer to Crimea and Ukraine was never based on any legally normative act of the USSR or Russian SFSR and was an unilateral act of Ukraine;
  • The referendum was conducted in a democratic and transparent way;

Document in full (original source):