Putin explained decision to return Crimea to Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to return the Crimea to Russia, because he couldn`t "throw people to nationalists." He said this in an interview for the film "The way home", a news piece which was broadcast by the TV channel "Rossiya-1".

"It was in the night from 22 to 23 (February). We finished at about 7 am. And I must admit, when we were leaving, I said to all of my colleagues (there were four of them): "The situation in Ukraine has turned in such a way that we have to start returning the Crimea to Russia, because we can not abandon the area and the people who live there to their own fate and throw them to nationalists," admitted the head of state.

He said that at that time he "set certain tasks, said what we should do and how, but underlined that we would do that only if we were absolutely convinced that that was what the people living in the Crimea wanted."

Three-quarters in favor

According to Putin, the first survey conducted in the Crimea after the Maidan events showed that three-quarters of the population of the peninsula wished to return to Russia.

At the same time, according to the President, the survey was conducted "outside the context of possible accession" (before the respective referendum).

"It turned out that those wishing to join Russia (in the Crimea) made 75% of the total population," said Putin. "It became obvious to me that if we had come to the point, the number of those wising that historic event happen would have been much bigger," said Putin.

The President stressed that "land grab or annexation of the Crimea weren`t the ultimate goals." "The ultimate goal was to give people an opportunity to express their opinion on how they want to live," he said.

Putin noted that he had thought the following way: if Crimeans want to remain part of Ukraine, then "so be it", but if they want to reunite with Russia, then "we can`t leave them."

"We know the results of the referendum, added Putin. And we did what we had to do."

On Viktor Yanukovich

As for the evacuation of Viktor Yanukovich, the President said: "our security service began to lead his motorcade", and every time he got in touch by phone, they identified his location.

Yanukovich himself said earlier that he had left Ukraine because of the risk to his own life and the lives of his family. "Nobody drove me from office. I was forced to leave Ukraine because of the risk to my own life and the lives of my family," he said.

Several criminal cases are opened against Yanukovich in Ukraine.

Accession of Crimea

On March 2014, after the political crisis and power shift in Ukraine, the Supreme Council of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council adopted the declaration of independence of the republic.

On March 16 a referendum was held in the Crimea and Sevastopol, which resulted in 96.77% of the Republic population and 95.6% of that in Sevastopol voting in favor of the reunification with Russia. On March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia, which was subsequently approved by the State Duma and the Federation Council.

Text and pictures by TASS