BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The peninsula of Crimea will hold its third referendum on March 16, 2014 on whether it should gain greater autonomy or reunite with Russia.
The peninsula previously held two referendums, in 1991 and 1994, focusing on similar issues.
-- 1991 referendum:
Held on Jan. 20, 1991, voters were asked whether they wanted the re-establishment of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which, founded in 1921 as part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, was abolished in 1945 and transferred into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.
Voters to the 1991 referendum supported the proposal, with 94.3 percent or 1,343,825 of the 1,441,019 voters who cast ballots voting yes.
-- 1994 referendum:
A three-part referendum was held on March 27, 1994, on whether Crimeans wanted greater autonomy within Ukraine, whether Crimeans should have dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship, and whether Crimean presidential decrees should have the status of laws. Voters approved all three issues, with approval rates at 78.4 percent, 82.8 percent, and 77.9 percent, respectively.
Yuriy Meshkov, elected president of Crimea in 1994, resurrected the referendum, which was disallowed by Kiev in 1992. The Ukrainian Central Election Commission and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk described the referendum as illegal.
-- 2014 referendum:
The upcoming referendum has been organized by the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and by the local government of Sevastopol.
Voters will be asked to vote on two alternatives, written in Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar in Cyrillic scripts: reuniting Crimea with Russia or restoring the 1991 Crimean constitution and remaining part of Ukraine.
A simple majority will decide the outcome of the March 16 referendum.
Authorities in Kiev argue the Crimean government does not have the authority under Ukrainian law to hold the referendum.
Public opinion polls in February 2014 found 41 percent of the Crimean interviewees wanted Crimea to reunite with Russia, against the 35.9 percent in favor during a 2013 survey.