Russia or Ukraine? Polls Close in Crimea Referendum

The polls have closed in Ukraine’s Crimean region following a contentious day of voters casting ballots Sunday in a referendum on whether the peninsula should join Russia, NBC News reported. The referendum, backed by Moscow and vehemently opposed by Ukraine’s new government and its western allies, is expected to be approved due to Crimea's large ethnic Russian population, and pro-Russian sentiment in Simferopol, the region's main administrative city. The ballots offered only two options alongside a box to check in ink. "Are you for Crimea reuniting with Russia?" the first question asked. The second asked if voters were instead in favor of restoring an older constitution that makes Crimea a semi-independent part of Ukraine. Russian reports claimed exit polling showed 93 percent in favor of the pro-Russian proposition, but Mykhail Milashev, the head of the Crimean Electoral Commission, later said the "exit poll bears no direct relation to real commission findings."

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