Breaking news – About 93% of Crimeans who took part in referendum voted to join Russia – exit poll

About 93% of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining the Russian federation and only 7% of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to first exit polls.

Polling stations closed in Crimea after the referendum where residents were to decide on the future status of the region.

“The results of the referendum exit polls in Crimea and Sevastopol: 93 % voted for the reunion of Crimea with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation. 7% voted for the restoration of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Crimea and Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine,” the Crimean republican institute for political and social researches said in a statement as cited by RIA Novosti.

A child holds the ballot of his mother during the referendum on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region at a polling station in Bakhchisaray March 16, 2014

A child holds the ballot of his mother during the referendum on the status of Ukraine’s Crimea region at a polling station in Bakhchisaray March 16, 2014

In Sevastopol, about 85% of voters cast their ballots by 1600 GMT, two hours before the polling stations closed, according to the chair of the city’s election commission Valery Medvedev.

The overall voter turnout in Crimea constituted over 80%, reports local news agency Kryminnform. In Sevastopol, about 85% of voters cast their ballots by 1600 GMT, two hours before the polling stations closed, according to the chair of the city’s election commission Valery Medvedev.

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Over a half of the Tatars living in the port city took part in the referendum, with the majority of them voting in favor of joining Russia, reports Itar-Tass citing a representative of the Tatar community Lenur Usmanov.

The preliminary results of the popular vote in Sevastopol are expected to be announced at 2030 GMT during a meeting in the center of the city that hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

In Simferopol, the capital of the republic, at least 15,000 have gathered to celebrate the referendum in central Lenin square and people reportedly keep arriving. Demonstrators, waving Russian and Crimean flags, are watching a live concert and awaiting the announcement of preliminary results of the voting.

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International observers are planning to present their final declaration on the Crimean referendum on March 17, the head of the monitors’ commission, Polish MP Mateush Piskorski told journalists. He added that the voting was held in line with international norms and standards.

Next week, Crimea will officially introduce the ruble as a second official currency along with Ukrainian hryvna, Aksyonov told Interfax. In his words, the dual currency will be in place for about six months.

Overall, the republic’s integration into Russia will take up to a year, the Prime Minister said, adding that it could be done faster. However, they want to maintain relations with “economic entities, including Ukraine,” rather than burn bridges.

Moscow is closely monitoring the vote count in Crimea, said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Karasin.

The results of the referendum will be considered once they are drawn up,” he told Itar-Tass.

The decision to hold a referendum was made after the bloody uprising in Kiev which ousted President Vladimir Yanukovich from power. Crimea – which is home to an ethnic Russian majority population – refused to recognize the coup-appointed government as legitimate. Crimeans feared that the new leadership would not represent their interests and respect rights. Crimeans were particularly unhappy over parliament’s decision to revoke the law allowing using minority languages – including Russian – as official along with the Ukrainian tongue. Crimeans staged mass anti-Maidan protests and asked Russia to protect them.

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Breaking news – 95% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia – preliminary results

 

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