SIMFEROPOL — Kremlin officials are overjoyed at the passage of a referendum Crimean residents voted on Sunday, after a landslide 140 percent of the two million citizens decided to break away from Ukraine to join Russia later this month.
The free and fair election was celebrated far beyond Moscow, as praise poured into the region from democratic republics as diverse as Syria, Iran, and North Korea. While confident in the vote, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un offered cautious praise: "We commend President Putin, but at least in our elections we have the grace and fairness to win with only a 100 percent margin," Jong-un said through a translator. "This seems like amateur hour."
Still, the vote attracted widespread condemnation from others on the world stage.
"This election is nothing more than a show election to legitimize the Russian occupation of sovereign territory of the nation of Ukraine," said Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. "This behavior by Russia is to be strongly condemned and we have sent a harshly-worded letter to President Putin saying he should leave Crimea or we will pass a resolution to use force in the region that he will later veto."
Calling the vote an "affront to democracy," President Obama joined others in criticism of Moscow.
"As a nation with extensive experience rigging elections in other countries, it is blatantly obvious to us that this election has been tampered with," Obama told reporters. "I mean a 140 percent voter turnout ... even in Chicago we never made it that obvious."
Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to rebuff critics of the election, stating that he was quite disappointed with the poor result and considered a voter turnout of around 300 percent to be a more realistic figure.