(WASHINGTONPOST) — SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia, election officials said Sunday, capping a heavy-handed campaign that blocked most voters from hearing a vision for any alternative to unification with Moscow.
Mikhail Malyshev, a senior election commission spokesman in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, announced that with a little more than 50 percent of the ballots counted, about 93 percent had voted in favor of joining Russia.
The White House and Western governments rejected the referendum, conducted as thousands of Russian troops occupied the peninsula, and are eyeing sanctions. Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, dismissed the vote as a “circus” under the “stage direction” of Moscow. Russia has staunchly defended it.
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