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Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev

Alexander Zemlianichenko, Associated Press

Gorbachev calls Crimean referendum as "happy event"

  • Associated Press
  • March 18, 2014 - 4:45 AM

MOSCOW — Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has hailed Crimea's vote to join Russia as a "happy event."

Gorbachev said in remarks carried Tuesday by online newspaper Slon.ru that the vote offered the Crimean residents the freedom of choice and justly reflected their will.

He said that Sunday's referendum showed that "people really wanted to return to Russia" and was a "happy event."

Gorbachev added that the Crimean referendum has set an example for people in Russian-speaking in eastern Ukraine, who also should decide their fate.

Gorbachev, who resigned as the Soviet president on Christmas Day 1991, has voiced regret that he was unable to stem the Soviet Union's collapse. He has criticized President Vladimir Putin's authoritarian policy, but said Tuesday that he supports his course in the Ukrainian crisis.

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