Voting starts in Crimea to decide if region leaves Ukraine for Russia

Voting got underway in Crimea on Sunday, March 16, 2014, as the inhabitants of this Ukrainian region began to cast their ballots in a referendum aimed at deciding whether the peninsula leaves Ukraine and becomes part of Russia. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Voting got underway in Crimea on Sunday, March 16, 2014, as the inhabitants of this Ukrainian region began to cast their ballots in a referendum aimed at deciding whether the peninsula leaves Ukraine and becomes part of Russia. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (REUTERS) - Voting got underway in Crimea on Sunday as the inhabitants of this Ukrainian region began to cast their ballots in a referendum aimed at deciding whether the peninsula leaves Ukraine and becomes part of Russia.

European leaders and US President Barack Obama have dismissed the vote, which has been organised by Crimea's pro-Russian authorities at short notice, as illegitimate, saying it would violate Ukraine's constitution.