Pro-Russian people celebrate in the central square in Sevastopol, Ukraine, late Sunday, March 16, 2014. Russian flags fluttered above jubilant crowds Sunday after residents in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The United States and Europe condemned the ballot as illegal and destabilizing and were expected to slap sanctions against Russia for it.(AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
MOSCOW (AP) — Final results of the referendum in Crimea show that 97 percent of voters have supported leaving Ukraine to join Russia, the head of the referendum election commission said Monday.
Mikhail Malyshev told a televised news conference that the final tally from Sunday’s vote was 96.8 percent in favor of splitting from Ukraine. He also said that the commission has not registered a single complaint about the vote.
The referendum was widely condemned by Western leaders who were planning to discuss economic sanctions to punish Russia on Monday. Ukraine’s new government in Kiev called the referendum a “circus” directed at gunpoint by Moscow.
But Valery Ryazantsev, head of Russia’s observer mission in Crimea and a lawmaker from the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Monday that the results are beyond dispute. He told the Interfax news agency that there are “absolutely no reasons to consider the vote results illegitimate.”
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