93% suppport for Crimea's accession to Russia – exit polls
Voting ended at 20:00 pm local time. Crimeans were able to cast their votes at 1,205 polling station.
"The results of the referendum exit polls in Crimea and Sevastopol: 93 percent voted for the reunion of Crimea with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation. 7 percent 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 research said in a statement as cited by RIA Novosti.
The overall voter turnout in Crimea constituted over 80 percent, reports local news agency, Kryminnform.
In Sevastopol, about 85 percent of voters had 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.
International observers at the referendum on the status of the Crimea are to present their opinion on Monday, head of the mission, Tadeusz Piskorski (Poland), said at a press-conference in Simferopol. "Tomorrow morning we will present our final declaration," he said.
Latvian MP Tatyana Zhdanok said in turn that there were no irregularities at the polling stations that she visited. She mentioned that voter activity was slightly lower in Bakhchisarai but still on average 40 percent of listed voters had voted by noon.
"We spotted nothing wrong in the voting procedure," she said.
Tatyana Zhdanok emphasized high voting activity in Simferopol. "Queues had already formed at 8 am there and at 10 am about 50 percent of voters had already voted," she said.
Zhdanok also pointed out that the voting was well organized and there were no breaches of democracy.
The referendum on the status of the Crimea was held on 16 March.
Turnout at the referendum currently underway in Crimea will be not less than 80 percent, Crimean Information Minister Dmitry Polonsky said on Sunday. "Data proves that the turnout exceeds 70 percent," the minister said, adding that joint efforts allowed the authorities to organize the referendum within the shortest period of time. "The team, which is taking the lead in Crimea, has been created recently. It involved young and ambitious politicians".
"Crimeans have waited for a referendum for a long time. We're ready to share our experience with Scotland and Catalonia: you'll see how the referendum is organised," Polonsky said.
"The preliminary results of the referendum will be announced in Nakhimov Square at 10:20-10:30 pm local time," Sevastopol’s Acting Mayor Dmitry Belik told reporters on Sunday.
The voting process is being monitored by 1,730 observers and over 180 media representatives from various countries, Belik said.
"Our referendum is as transparent as our ballot boxes," he said, adding that Monday, March 17, would be an off-day in Sevastopol.
"Residents of Sevastopol should have an opportunity to take a rest and celebrate the results of the referendum," he said.
Turnout for the secession referendum in Crimea is unprecedented, observers say, with no indications of violations, they noted, adding that Crimean residents are not being forced to vote the "right way." And what can be seen in Crimea now are the happy faces of voters hurrying to polling stations. This is according to members of Russia's observer mission who spoke with the Voice of Russia.
Crimean residents are choosing their future; to join Russia or to broaden Crimea's powers as part of Ukraine. Despite poor weather in Crimea, many elderly people have travelled to at local polling stations to vote. Russian senators who have already visited several polling stations in Simferopol and Yalta, registered no violations and praised organizers for a high level of preparations. The referendum meets international standards, including those stipulated in the UN Charter, the first deputy chairman of the Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov said.
"We are in Yalta now and have already visited six polling stations. There are many people everywhere. Despite the bad weather in Crimea, gusting wind and rain, the numbers of people determined to cast their vote is increasing by the minute. The situation is quiet everywhere. As it seems to me, voting is being carried out in line with international standards. After receiving ballot papers, people are going to the booths and then casting them in transparent ballot boxes. All voters bring a passport, or a copy if necessary. One can even see 80-year-old grannies with walking sticks at the polling stations because they are determined to take part in the referendum."
For Crimean citizens, March 16 is a festive occasion, a member of Russia's Committee on International Affairs, Igor Morozov, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
"We continue to visit the polling stations in Sevastopol. Although it is raining hard, there are many people everywhere. People who arrived at the polling stations with their family members are queuing to vote. We saw elderly people among them as well, many of them. As early as Tuesday, voters began to visit local polling stations, trying to find out whether they were listed to vote."
"According to information available, the Ukrainian regime has blocked all information on registered voters and electoral lists. This was from the executive secretary of the election commission. Therefore, polling station personnel compiled the lists based on the last elections in 2012, he said.
"Today all voters are making a historic decision and they understand that perfectly well too. All polling stations we have visited comply with international standards. All documents are in order, and the working personnel are highly qualified.
It is hard even to imagine that Crimean residents are voting under pressure and even if Western countries refuse to recognize the referendum outcome, we are well aware of the fact that Russia will perform its historic mission in any case. There have been precedents created in both international law and practice. We know perfectly well about the existence of UN regulations that brought Kosovo into being some time ago. Therefore, we are absolutely sure that both Crimea and Russia are acting within the international law framework," Igor Morozov said.
Voice of Russia, Interfax,