SIMFEROPOL, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) council of ministers was among the first peninsular residents on Sunday to turn out and cast their ballots in Crimea's third referendum in history.
Sergey Aksenov was seen accompanied by his daughter Kristina at the polling station No. 08069.
A total of 1,205 polling stations were opened at 08:00 local time (0200 GMT) on Sunday.
According to Mikhail Malyshev, chief of the ARC commission preparing and holding the All-Crimean Referendum, the first official results of the referendum would be expected before the end of Sunday, with the final official results expected to be announced on Monday.
Aksenov told reporters at the polling station that Sunday's referendum would end successfully to become a historic moment.
"Everything should end successfully," said the premier. "There are no doubts about this. Everything will be peaceful and good."
Fifty-four observers arrived on Saturday from European Union countries to join other international observers to witness the referendum.
International pollsters like GfK did its survey ahead of Sunday's polls and had a return of 54 percent of the peninsular residents favoring reunification with Russia and 11 percent favoring preservation of status quo with greater autonomy, among a polled turnout of 70 percent.
Kiev has been crying foul about Sunday's referendum, describing it as anti-constitutional and illegal.
The Crimean Supreme Council (parliament) said in a statement: "Even under the Ukrainian constitution, it is the people who are the bearers of sovereignty and the sole source of power and nobody can usurp their power. It is primary and nobody should have doubts as to the legitimacy of the referendum."
Now almost five hours into polling, atmosphere in Simferopol and Sevastopol were seen as calm and voters had to brave rains to travel to polling stations in Simferopol.
The ARC authorities have resorted to local police, security service and self-defense units to administer the social order of the polling day. Some 10,000 personnel from such units are on duty Sunday, according to sources with the ARC authorities.
These personnel are seen patrolling streets and guarding administrative buildings.
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