A crucial referendum on either becoming an integral part of Russia or staying within Ukraine on conditions of wide autonomy has kicked off in the despite international condemnation and pressure from .
The polling stations of 27 regional Crimea election commissions are going to be open all day long, starting from 8am till 8pm (0600 GMT- ). Up to 1.5 million – this is the number of ballots printed for the referendum – Crimea citizens are expected come to cast their votes in favor of independence or against it.
Some 10,000 members of the Crimean military recently formed from self-defense squads, and over 5,000 police officers are ensuring the referendum goes smoothly.
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