Russians celebrate in the streets of Crimea's capital
Sunday, March 16, 2014
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine - Russians throughout Crimea are celebrating after the region's controversial referendum on joining Russia passed with over 95% in favor of a union with Moscow.
Thousands of Simferopol residents flocked to the city's central Lenin Square to wave the Russian flag and dance to Soviet-era pop songs. Chants of 'Russia, Russia' and 'Glory to Russia! Glory to Crimea!' filled the square.
"We've waited 23 years for this day, 23 years!" cafe owner Lyudmila said. "We are finally going home to our motherland."
"We all expect Crimea to blossom in a way that was never possible with Ukraine. We hope that future generations will be proud of what we have done today," Konstantin, 24, said.
Many in the crowd said they hoped for a better economic future and investment into the region.
"Crimea will be Russia's main tourism city again, like in the Soviet Union. We want people to come here to have fun and to invest in the economy," 22-year-old Simferopol native Tatiana, said.
Many of the night's revelers said stability and clean governing methods would be guaranteed by Moscow.
"Crimea needs to make money for itself," Sevastopol native Irina said. “It needs to be self-sustaining and not hand everything over to the central government. We'll have stability with Russia," she added.
Dmitry, 59, said, "I got a great gift for my 60th birthday tomorrow. I want to laugh, cry, sing and shout with joy. I don't even know how to express my feelings. I haven't been so happy in years. There have only been a few times in my life that I've been so happy. We never have to look at Ukraine and think about what will come next for us."
Crimea's parliament is scheduled to formally submit a membership request to join the Russian Federation on Monday.
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