Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Crimea holds secession referendum

Crimea is voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy. The referendum has been condemned as "illegal" by Kiev and the West but is backed by Moscow. Since the fall of Ukraine's pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops have in effect taken control of the majority ethnic-Russian region.Voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine, but Crimean Tatars are boycotting the poll.The BBC's Ben Brown at a polling station in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, reported a strong turnout - with 100 people arriving in the first 10 minutes after polls opened.Polling stations across Crimea opened at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) and will close 12 hours later.

The West has declared the vote illegal while Moscow says it will respect the outcome
A high turnout was reported in early voting at some polling stations
Crimea's authorities describe the Kiev government as "fascist", urging residents to vote for union with Russia