The idea that only 15% of Crimeans voted to join Russia is speeding around the internet after an article was published in Forbes magazine written by Professor Paul Roderick Gregory.
According to Professor Gregory
“The website of the “President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights” posted a blog that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste.”
“According to the Council’s report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout was a maximum 30%. And of these, only half voted for annexation – meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.
“The fate of Crimea, therefore, was decided by the 15 percent of Crimeans, who voted in favor of unification with Russia (under the watchful eye of Kalashnikov-toting soldiers).”
Unfortunately for Professor Gregory, the blog post wasn’t pulled down and is available (in Russian) here.
Svetlana Gannushkina is fiercely against the annexation of Crimea, chiefly on legal grounds, but the main point is that Professor Gregory, in his Forbes article, has completely misconstrued the nature of the blog post and falsely extrapolated from the (unscientific and imprecise) figures given within it.
According to the blog post (based on “survey participants and citizens”) The vast majority of inhabitants of Sevastopol voted in a referendum to join Russia (50-80% turnout), Crimea according to various sources for joining Russia voted 50-60% voter turnout with a total of 30-50% ;
So, this is no “accidental post” of the “real Crimean election results” but an estimation by the members of this working group based on “various sources.”
Now, even if we accept that the authors of the blog are correct in the wide range of percentages they give (a big “if”), we can see, thanks to the original blog not having been pulled down, that Professor Gregory has totally distorted the figures.
To try to make any genuine calculation as to the percentage who voted for reunion, based on what is in the blog, is a slightly pointless task but we would have to make some assumptions. If we assume “vast majority” of Sevastopol voters means a minimum of 80% and a maximum of 99% and the electorate proportions of Sevastopol to Crimea are 15:85, then the blog figures would translate into a minimum of 18.65% and a maximum of 36.96% of the electorate voting for reunion. More importantly, in terms of actual voters (the way elections usually work), the figures would be a minimum of 54.39%; and a maximum of 65.41%.
Professor Gregory has, dishonestly, arrived at his 15% figure by taking the minimum figure for Crimea for both turnout and for voters for union, calling them the maximum, and then ignoring Sevastopol. He has also pretended the report is based on the “real results,” when it seems to be little more than the imprecise estimates of a small working group who were apparently against the idea of the referendum in the first place.
It appears that Professor Gregory is intent on deceiving his readers about the vote in Crimea and its legitimacy, probably as part of the widespread campaign to deny the people of Crimea their legitimate rights to self-determination and to demonize Russia in the process.
Professor Gregory and Forbes should give a full account of this episode. In addition, the institutions to which Professor Gregory belongs, including the Hoover Institution at Stanford, the University of Houston where he is Cullen Professor of Economics and the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin where he is a research professor should have a close look at what this deception says about his intellectual integrity.
1) Professor Gregory has rewritten his original post, retracting the 15% and “secret poll” claims.
2) In his rewritten post Professor Gregory is still trying to use the straw poll in the blog to come up with some figures about turnout and actual votes cast. Svetlana Gannushkina has kindly confirmed, in her words: “Link to our report in respect of 15% support for the annexation of Crimea is impermissible speculation.”
2) A new poll by Pew Research confirms the accuracy of the official poll results.