About 93% of Crimean voters have backed joining Russia and seceding from Ukraine, exit polls have suggested.
Crowds of pro-Moscow voters celebrated in the main city of Simferopol, and Crimea’s pro-Russia leader said he would apply to join Russia on Monday.
But many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum, and the EU and US condemned it as illegal.
Pro-Russian forces took control of Crimea in February after Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president was overthrown.
On the ballot paper, voters were asked whether they would like Crimea to rejoin Russia.
A second question asked whether Ukraine should return to its status under the 1992 constitution, which would give the region much greater autonomy.
There was no option for those who wanted the constitutional situation to remain unchanged. …
There are 1.5 million eligible voters and election officials put the turnout in Sunday’s vote at more than 80%.