Astroturfing in Crimea

Just in case this has to be mentioned, there is a reason why it looks as though the population of Crimea seems to consist overwhelmingly of Russophiles who back Crimea’s incorporation into Russia:

Asked why so many more people were at the pro-Russia rally, 32-year-old Anton Vlasenko said they were afraid to stand up to Moscow.

“They are scared of the Russian soldiers, they think they have no choice,” he said.

He said the referendum planned for March 16 on making Crimea part of Russia — announced after pro-Moscow lawmakers seized control and Russian forces flooded into the region — was a farce.

“The Kalashnikov is the symbol of Russian democracy,” Vlasenko said.

Attempts to hold a similar pro-unity demonstration in Sevastopol met with violence, with the pro-Russian activists attacking some 20 people who were guarding a 200-strong rally in an outer district of the city.

The attackers destroyed a car and blocked the vehicles of the security men guarding the crowd, at least five of whom were detained by police.

Anyone really surprised by any of this?