SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine- Crimeans woke up to an uncertain future on Monday after a referendum that raises the prospect of months-long economic turmoil and a legal vacuum ahead of a planned merger with Russia.
As the notes of Russia’s national anthem died down after blasting out over crowds of thousands in the streets of Crimea on Sunday, locals were left scratching their heads over a vote that turns their region into something of a pariah.
Unrecognized by most of the international community except Russia, Crimea is now expected to gradually transition to direct Russian rule but no one knows exactly how or when.
“I like my habits, my routines. It frightens me a little… We’ll see,” said 70-year-old Anna Ivanovna, who voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
Crimea’s pro-Moscow leader Sergiy Aksyonov has repeatedly assured residents that transition to Russian rule will be simple and he plans to introduce the ruble from this week alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia for around six months.
But Crimeans are not so confident and there has been a run on the banks, with many rushing to take money out of their accounts — especially at branches of Ukrainian national banks that might now be shut down.
Crimea depends on the rest of Ukraine for electricity, heating and water so basic services could also be affected should Kiev take the implications of Crimea’s self-determination to their logical conclusion and cut supplies.
In any case, the decision will be up to Moscow where the parliament has yet to approve a law allowing the territories of foreign countries to join Russia.