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Confidence, trepidation ahead of Crimea referendum

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SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE — Men hawk Russian tricolor flags to drivers at traffic lights on the streets of the Crimean capital. Minivans emblazoned with election slogans belt out patriotic songs. A World War II bunker has become a drop-off point for people to donate blankets and canned food for armed militiamen who patrol the streets.

One of the two television stations allowed to broadcast in Crimea these days makes no secret of its allegiances: It stuffs the airwaves with clips that display the slogan ‘‘March 16: Together with Russia’’ while blaring the Russian national anthem. They promise higher pensions, higher salaries, and a better quality of life — within Russia’s embrace.

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