Bulgarian Nationalists to Be Among Observers of Crimea Referendum
Nationalist groups from Bulgaria will monitor March 16's Crimean poll on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Simeon Kostadinov, a member of the Nationalist Party of Bulgaria, and Pavel Chernev, explained the observers from Bulgaria will take part in the process to ensure that Bulgarian minority's rights are being safeguarded, as CROSS.BG news agency has reported.
The two men, which were both formerly part of the ultra-nationalist party Ataka, added that the initiative was set up upon an invitation by the Crimean local government, which at the end of February unilaterally took the decision to hold a referendum.
A group of volunteers from across the world who choose to take part in the monitoring will be sponsored by Crimean authorities.
Chernev and Kostadinov asserted that Bulgarian minority in Ukraine was currently "under threat", as masked and armed men created "black lists" involving people of Bulgarian origin.
Another group of volunteers, something of a "Bulgarian brigade", was currently being forged and was aimed at enabling a swift response if a repression to Bulgarian minority rights takes place across Crimea.
Nationalist groups, though, are not the only ones to send representatives to observe Crimea's referendum, which is not deemed legitimate by the EU.
Bulgarian city of Topolovgrad's mayor, Bojin Bojinov, backed by the biggest opposition party GERB, is also going to Ukraine's autonomous region.
He was quoted as saying by Bulgarian website Dnevnik.bg that, apart from the need for protecting minority rights, his "love for Russia" also led him to the move.
The Crimean poll, the results of which Ukraine itself has vowed not to recognize, has sparked much controversy around the world, which the west refusing to accept it and Russia expressing readiness to incorporate Crimea if this is wished upon by its people.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced it would not send its own observers on March 16, as it believes the referendum will be conducted in breach of Ukraine's constitution.
OSCE monitors are usually deployed at crucial votes across the former Soviet Union countries and are largely seen as a guarantor of fair and free elections.
Russia, on the other hand, is planning to send its own observers, according to reports cited by the website Lenta.ru.
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