Crimea Election Vote
A Crimean voter leaves a Sevastopol polling boothReuters

A leaked UN report on human rights in Ukraine has claimed that Russia "rigged" last month's Crimea referendum.

The vote saw a 96.77% majority of Crimeans opt to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian president Vladimir Putin then signed a decree to reunify the territory.

However, the UN draft report, obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, asserts that Russia used propaganda, repression of dissent and multiple votes at different polling stations to ensure a victory for the Russian vote.

"The delegation met sources who claimed that there had been alleged cases of non-Ukrainian citizens participating in the referendum as well as individuals voting numerous times in different locations," said UN assistant secretary-general for human rights Ivan Simonovic in the report.

"The presence of paramilitary and so-called self-defence groups ... widely believed to be from the Russian Federation, was not conducive to an environment in which voters could freely exercise their right ... to freedom of expression," the report added.

Russia refuted the claims, taking the line that the referendum was a free and fair vote which was legitimate under international law. Ukraine's central government and many Western nations have argued that it was illegitimate.

Simonovic did not reach a conclusion without that Russia's tactics there would have been a different outcome to the vote.