I'm trying to find out if there were (official) proposals* to hold alternative forms of referendums in the two areas. I know that the UN and OSCE have criticized and not recognized the referenda that were planned and held, and I can find sources to that effect.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any information on alternative proposals that may have been made. I do not necessarily want to draw the conclusion that they did not exist.

Therefore my question, whether there were these suggestions. I would be additionally grateful for corresponding evidence/sources.

*e.g. foreign ministry, EU, UN etc. in the sense of "let's do a referendum, but do it right"

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    The world is full of proposals. Without narrowing this down, there's always "that guy" at the pub who proposed something similar. In fact, a lot of the Qs here about this conflict are little more than "who else agrees with me on <this issue>?" Jan 23, 2023 at 18:17
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    I don't know of any such proposals, and I suspect that there weren't any official ones, since (as I understand it) even the concept of a referendum to decide to join Russia was illegal under Crimea's existing laws.
    – Bobson
    Jan 23, 2023 at 18:42
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    @Bobson Yes, me too. But i think it's risky to make that conclusion, so i had to ask.
    – choXer
    Jan 23, 2023 at 18:45
  • The largest alternative was basically not to make any referendum at all. Jan 23, 2023 at 18:50
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica mostly international, but russia-originated is interesting as well
    – choXer
    Jan 24, 2023 at 0:21

2 Answers 2


Having a regional secession referendum is typically quite a problematic affair and - in normal conditions - carried with the, perhaps grudging, permission of the country it is taking place in.

For example, see Scotland or Quebec. Or New Caledonia. As a counterexample, see the unrecognized Catalan referendum (which perhaps Spain reacted somewhat too harshly to - they've recently dropped charges on the politicians involved IIRC).

So, in order for international institutions to have seriously considered recognizing and supervising this referendum, it would have first been up to Ukraine to say "yes, you can hold a referendum in Crimea about leaving".

And, if Crimea, why not hold similar referenda in Russia? Chechnya, perhaps? Oddly as well, Russia only seems to like referenda when it suits them: Kosovo independence referendum

Re. Kosovo. It seceded near the end of the Yugoslav Wars, where genocidal acts had been carried out, by Serbia and its allies. Milosevic went to a war crimes tribunal because of his behavior there. So, at least from the PoV of the countries which recognized it, Kosovo is not the same thing as putting as a condition that UA, and RU, first to agree to referenda before holding them on their territory. If today, another Serbian region wanted to hold a departure referendum, I'd be extremely surprised if the international community - and that includes countries recognizing Kosovo - didn't tell them to get Serbia's permission first.

  • I'm not sure why you assume that Chechnya would want out. Starting with Chechnya having no "out", i.e. no road or port to anything that is not Russia.
    – alamar
    Jan 23, 2023 at 22:46
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    Hmmm, the events of 1994 and 2000, maybe? I mean, let's say you're right, an honest, supervised, referendum should be OK with Russia, neh? Or is this holding referenda a one-way street, only good when it suits Russia? Jan 23, 2023 at 22:48
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    Like I said, then no problem holding a referendum there, no? Good for the gander, good for the goose. Jan 23, 2023 at 22:53
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    I'm pretty sure Kadyrov will be able to show 99% for anything he wants to be voted, including a referendum to join Japan. Would you really be happier with another one of "Russian Federation voting" happening with expected result?
    – alamar
    Jan 23, 2023 at 22:55
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    There's the height of Caucasus mountains there, and no road @Acccumulation
    – alamar
    Jan 24, 2023 at 9:09

I remember this idea entertained by so-called non-coopted Russian opposition - that's mostly pro-western liberal media crowd (Navalny, Meduza, TV Rain) as opposed to Duma parties such as CPRF or LDPR. Some alternative referendum in Crimea was supposed to be a way to resolve the Crimean question in post-Putin Russia.

I believe they expected Novorossiya to go away either via Minsk accords or unilaterally, but for some reason they expected Western-recognized re-referendum in Crimea to be possible.


Навальный считает, что население Крыма должно подтвердить свое решение о вхождении в состав России на «нормальном референдуме», но при этом признает, что полуостров теперь российский и уже не вернется в состав Украины.

Navalny believes that the population of Crimea should confirm its decision to join Russia during "real referendum", but at the same time recognizes that the peninsula is now Russian and will not return to Ukraine.

Well, it turns out we've got post-liberal Russia before we had post-Putin Russia, because the people in question are, en masse, no longer in Russia.

  • Is it possible to also find a source with exact wordings for the thing you remember? That would be great. Jan 23, 2023 at 18:52
  • "but for some reason": The rather plausible reason was that Russia had organized/recognized the Crimean referendum at that point, but for a long time the Kremlin didn't formally enjoin the union-with-Russia referendums in DNR/LPR. Or even granted formal recognition to these as independent countries, until 2022 that is. Jan 23, 2023 at 19:07
  • What is implausible here is that the West, and especially Ukraine, was going to recognize the Russian Crimea after this-referendum or that-referendum.
    – alamar
    Jan 23, 2023 at 19:18
  • It would help very much if you spelled out and explained the acronyms CPRF, LDPR, and LDNR. As is, this answer is a bit unreadable. Jan 23, 2023 at 19:39
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    @David Hammen CPRF stands for Communist Party of Russian Federatio, LDPR was an acronym of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and LDNR should be LDPR which is a mix of LPR and DPR.
    – convert
    Jan 23, 2023 at 21:30

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