Crimea voters vote to join Russia, First Coast reacts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Sunday evening, 75 percent of votes were counted in Ukraine's Crimea region. The majority of preliminary results show that voters are in favor of receding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

President Obama said the vote "would never be recognized" by the United States and its allies.

The issue has people in Jacksonville's Ukrainian community passionately talking.

Misha Mochalkin was born in western Ukraine and he's got family in that country.

"The mood is very tense," he said. "They're very wary. they're paying attention to all of the outcomes."

Especially now that Crimea has voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Several of the First Coast's Ukrainian community that FCN spoke to weren't shy about their opinion.

"The thing with Eastern Europe," Mochalkin said, "is the votes can be easily rigged."

Vitaly Rymer came to the US from Ukraine in 1991. Part of his family is in northwestern Ukraine. On Sunday, members of the First Russian Ukrainian Baptist Church were talking about the vote.

"They are very afraid of Russia," Rymer said. "They are very afraid of leaving Ukraine. And they're saying that 70% of the voting poll? That's a lie. I don't know how they could get that without (an) illegal thing."

Kristina Kutsayev was born in Ukraine. FCN asked if she thought Crimea should become part of Russia or stay part of Ukraine.

"To stay part of Ukraine," she said. "I think it's going to evolve into more problems if it becomes part of Russia."

Some in Jacksonville's Ukrainian community tell FCN it's sad to have to watch their country go through this from so far away.

In speaking about Russian President in one of two options, Vladimir Putin, Rymer said, "If the world will react strongly and press him, with either economic sanctions or a military presence there, then he could go back and Ukraine would still be a country."


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