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Crimea? No, Venice! Independence referendum in EU goes almost unnoticed

Published time: March 17, 2014 12:28
Edited time: March 18, 2014 16:58

Reuters / Manuel Silvestri

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While the Crimean referendum tops world media headlines, an attempt at secession is going on in Veneto, Italy, with its major city Venice. But as it is being virtually ignored by media, people in Europe are hardly aware of what’s happening next door.

Do you mean the independence of Crimea?” says a Berlin resident when RT’s Irina Galushko asks him of what he thinks of the current referendum in Veneto, Italy, where people are voting on whether to break away from Rome.

No, I haven’t heard of it” was the most common answer Galushko received.

The online referendum in the northern Italian province was launched on Sunday, the same day the majority of people in Crimea voted yes to seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. But unlike the Crimean referendum, the Veneto one has not quite found itself in the media spotlight.

Nevertheless, about 3.8 million eligible Veneto resident voters will now be able, until Friday, to say if they would like to see the region an independent, sovereign and federative Republic of Veneto.

Veneto is one of the biggest and wealthiest provinces in Italy with a population of more than 5 million people. One of the main reasons for the vote is that the region is tired of the backbreaking burden of taxes imposed by Rome.

We would like to continue the economic ties with Italy,” Lodovico Pizzati, the spokesman for the independence movement, told RT. “But from a fiscal standpoint there’s a huge gap between what we pay in taxes and what we receive as public service. We are talking about a difference of 20 billion euro.”

The latest polls, suggesting that about 65 percent of the population is in favor of becoming independent, have encouraged the independence movement leaders finally to have the region’s fate decided.

We have to fight for it [independence],” Giovanni Dalla Valle, head of the Veneto independence movement, told RT. “We will do it in a peaceful, diplomatic way. We do strongly believe that when the majority wants to be independent there is nothing they [the Italian government] can do.

Veneto independence activists say they have been inspired by secession movements in Scotland and Catalonia.