On September 18th, Russia held parliamentary elections in the State Duma. For the first time, elections were also held in occupied Crimea.
The Russian national anthem, popular Russian songs at the polls, ballots without a detachable coupon, turnout at the elections nearly 50% and no international observers. On the day of the elections, Hromadske journalists visited Simferopol, the administrative capital of the peninsula and Bakhchisarai, that city densely populated with Crimean Tatars.
On the eve of the elections, Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (which Russian authorities have banned), urged compatriots to boycott the Duma elections.
Seitvaap Charukhov, representative of Crimean Tatar People said that some Crimean Tatars were threatened to be fired from their jobs.
Pavlo Klimkin, Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called the parliamentary elections in the State Duma “illegitimate” because they were held in occupied Crimea. In September 2016, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine made a statement that the elections in Crimea should not be held. Ukraine’s Parliament also voted for a resolution urging other states, assemblies, and international organizations to declare the elections in Crimea illegal. The Verkhovna Rada also urges the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation not to accept deputies who were voted in from Crimea.
As a response, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitrii Peskov said that Russia won’t take into account Ukraine’s stance on the elections in Crimea because “Crimea is Russian territory now.”