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Residents in the Ukrainian region of Crimea are voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy.
As polling stations opened early in the morning, people queued outside waiting to place their ballot.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD OF ELECTORAL COMMISSION, MIKHAIL MALYSHEV, SAYING:
"According to the information from polling stations people are lining up so at the moment we are observing the activity at this early time of day. We have not had that (long queues) since Soviet times."
As most of Crimea's population are ethnic Russians, voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SIMFEROPOL RESIDENT LYUDMILA, SAYING:
"It is such a holiday. I am so happy that I want to cry. My sister is 75-year-old, she was born in the Soviet Union, and can you imagine all that time she has been dreaming to die in Russia. And now she says her dream will come true."
But Crimean Tatars, who make up about 12 per cent o