Crimea referendum in facts and figures

15th March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Crimea's referendum on Sunday to break from Ukraine and join Russia is regarded as illegitimate by the West but seen in Moscow as an example of self-determination like Kosovo leaving Serbia.

There is little doubt about the result, which local pro-Moscow prime minister Sergiy Aksyonov says he has an "inner feeling" will result in an overwhelming majority of votes for Russia.

Here are some facts and figures for the vote that has sparked a security crisis on Europe's eastern border and is being carried out with Russian forces in control of the strategic Black Sea peninsula.

Voting: Polls open at 0600 GMT and close at 1800 GMT, with more than 1,200 polling stations spread out over the rugged diamond-shaped region.

Observers: A total of 135 foreign monitors from 23 countries will be coming but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has said that it will not be participating as it has not received an invitation from a national government.

Media: There are 623 journalists from 129 media accredited and a professional-looking press centre has been set up at the headquarters of "Krym" state television in the regional capital Simferopol.

Exit Poll: Crimean pollsters will survey voters, with their estimate expected very soon after polls close. They will have white baseball caps reading: "Crimea. Poll. Spring" -- a reference to what local authorities are calling the "Crimean Spring".

Voters: Around 1.5 million ballots have been printed, organisers say, dismissing as "lies" the claim by officals in Kiev that many more are in fact being prepared so as to falsify the result.

Ukrainian military: Organisers say there are "no obstacles" for Ukrainian soldiers in bases surrounded by Russian forces to come and vote too.

Chief organiser Mikhaylo Malyshev said he had received calls from Ukrainian soldiers who want to vote but are being prevented by their commanders.

Social media: Updates in English and Russian are being posted on the Facebook page "Openpresscentr" and through the Twitter account @crimea_gov. The website is also regularly updated.

Results: The preliminary results are expected to be announced "soon after" that by Malyshev as well as from concert stages being set up in Simferopol and Sevastopol, home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Final results are due by Monday morning, after which Crimea's pro-Moscow authorities have said they will declare independence from Ukraine and make a formal application to join Russia.

© 2014 AFP

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