With Russian troops strolling around and watching the polls, the Russian government reported that 97% of Crimea voted for annexation to Russia back in March.
Turns out, that reporting was just a few inches wide of the mark.
The website of the “President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights” posted a blog that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to the Council’s report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout was a maximum 30%. And of these, only half voted for annexation – meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.
The fate of Crimea, therefore, was decided by the 15 percent of Crimeans, who voted in favor of unification with Russia (under the watchful eye of Kalashnikov-toting soldiers).
To make sure no one misses this:
Official Kremlin results: 97% for annexation, turnout 83 percent, and percent of Crimeans voting in favor 82%.
President’s Human Rights Council results: 50% for annexation, turnout 30%, percent of Crimeans voting in favor 15%.
Putin’s people pulled this “rather unfortunate” report from the President’s Human Rights Council website, but council member Svetlana Gannushkina talked about this subject on Kanal 24 (as reproduced on Ukrainian television), declaring that the Crimean vote “discredited Russia more than could be dreamed up by a foreign agent.”
I don’t know about that. Jimmy Carter does a pretty good job discrediting the US and he’s no foreign agent. He’s just a bitter doofus who volunteers to be a tool of dictators.
Putin’s problem is different. His government, probably for the first time ever, accidentally told the truth.
A vigorous, pro-American administration in Washington would seize on the Russian error and make use of it to weaken Putin’s position. Let’s watch the Obama administration do nothing useful with it at all.