Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the annexation of Crimea claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum.
No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on the 27th of February 2014, and held on 16th of March 2014. For the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation see here.
Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov, a former mafia enforcer. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.
The oft-cited figure of 97% has been contested by the Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council, which estimated that only between 30% and 50% of Crimeans took part in the referendum, of which some 50-60% favoured secession.
A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.