Exit polls showed that some 93 percent of residents of Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea voted on Sunday for seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, RIA Novosti reports.
Voters were asked just two questions on the ballot – printed in the Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar languages – to secede from Ukraine and request annexation by Russia, or to remain part of Ukraine with expanded autonomy for the region.
Only 7 percent of voters chose to restore the 1992 Crimean Constitution and remain an autonomous republic within Ukraine, said the Crimean institute of political and sociological research, which conducted the exit polls at 150 voting sites in Crimea and 50 sites in Sevastopol, a city with a separate administrative status from the rest of the peninsula.
More than 59,000 voters took part in the exit polls.
According to Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, 85 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum.
Ukrainian and Western leaders have denounced the referendum as illegitimate and unconstitutional, while Moscow insists the Crimeans – a majority of whom identify as ethnic Russians – should be allowed to determine their own destiny.
Western leaders have threatened targeted economic sanctions and visa bans against Russian officials responsible for violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine if Crimea secedes and is annexed following the referendum.