In the autonomous Crimean peninsula, voting is underway to decide if the region will secede from Ukraine entirely and become a part of Russia. The result of the vote is largely considered a forgone conclusion, and a number of Western leaders are threatening economic sanctions on Russia in the event of a severed Crimea.
The referendum in the largely Russian peninsula is being heavily guarded by Russian troops where voters are being presented with two questions:
"Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as part of the Russian Federation?" or "Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?"
The commission chair of Crimea is reporting a 63% turnout, but few pro-Ukraine voters have been spotted.
— Maxim Eristavi (@MaximEristavi) March 16, 2014
Several Ukrainian news websites - TSN, Segodnya, UNIAN, 1+1 - hit by massive DDoS attacks, claim it's to stop them writing about Crimea
— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 16, 2014
One of the inevitable results of the understood vote is that many non-Russian Crimean citizens are now leaving for other parts of Ukraine. Tamily Tasheva, a Crimean Tatar from Simferopol, told The Daily Beast:
"Women with children and older people are temporarily leaving Crimea for Kiev and Western Ukraine," Tasheva says. "They will be hosted in boarding houses and in volunteers' apartments for free. In the last five days, about 500 people have asked for information about asylum for us."
Protests in Moscow yesterday echoed the Western sentiment that Crimea should remain autonomous, where many expressed fears that a Russian Crimea would be the first step toward war between the nations.
"I love Ukraine - it's Putin who needs war and an empire, not me," said Dmitry Maksimov, a 29-year-old lawyer who held a bouquet of flowers dyed blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
[Image via AP]