Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov says joining Russia brought only benefits to the region, but there are Crimean residents who disagree. Nathan Frandino reports.
Nearly a year ago these leaders in Crimea were celebrating a historic and controversial referendum. These residents had voted to join the Russian Federation in a move rejected by Ukraine and the West as illegal. A year later, Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov says he and others remain confident in the vote's outcome. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CRIMEAN LEADER, SERGEI AKSYONOV, SAYING: "Currently, more than 90 percent support what happened in March last year. I personally have no doubt about it, and to other western media I say, 'Please, at any time, come out on street here, and ask the people what they think of what happened.' I can assure you that nine out of 10 will say they support it and would go again and vote if need be." On the streets of Crimea's capital Simferopol, residents say there have been some problems. With Western sanctions imposed on Moscow and on Crimea, food prices have skyrocketed and capital is leaving the country at record rates. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SIMFEROPOL RESIDENT OKSANA, SAYING: "Prices... what's happening to the prices? A lot been said about it...the dollar...ok, the dollar rate went up, but now the dollar rate went down, but the prices are still going up. It's unbelievable. There is no order anywhere, no matter where you go. You have to re-register documents - it's a mess." Residents say pensions and salaries increased. But above all, they've also gotten peace. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RESIDENT OF PARTIZANSKOE, LIDIA, SAYING: "We are happy there is no war here, because after the Kiev Maidan we could have... you know, we could have had a much worse situation than it was in Kiev. " After the vote, Moscow moved fast to stamp its authority on the peninsula, where Russian patriotism remains strong.