Crimea exit poll: About 93% back Russia union -
BBC.- About 93% of Crimean voters have backed joining Russia and seceding from Ukraine, exit polls have suggested.
Crowds of pro-Moscow voters celebrated in the main city of Simferopol, and Crimea's pro-Russia leader said he would apply to join Russia on Monday.
But many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum, and the EU and US condemned it as illegal.
Pro-Russian forces took control of Crimea in February after Ukraine's pro-Moscow president was overthrown.
On the ballot paper, voters were asked whether they would like Crimea to rejoin Russia.
A second question asked whether Ukraine should return to its status under the 1992 constitution, which would give the region much greater autonomy.
There was no option for those who wanted the constitutional situation to remain unchanged.
Ethnic Russians make up 58.5% of the region's population, and many of them were expected to vote for joining Russia.
One voter, Olga Koziko, told the BBC that she was voting for secession because she did not want to be governed by "those Nazis who came to power in Kiev".
"Russia will defend us and protect us," the schoolteacher said.
There are 1.5 million eligible voters and election officials put the turnout in Sunday's vote at more than 80%.
Ethnic Tatars, who make up 12% of the population, mostly boycotted the election.
Sergei Aksyonov, who was installed as Crimea's regional government leader after Russia's military takeover, said a session of parliament would take place on Monday.
"The Supreme Soviet of Crimea will make an official application for the republic to join the Russian Federation at a meeting on March 17," he said on Twitter after the vote.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the vote as "dangerous and destabilising" and said it would have "increasing costs for Russia".
The US has previously threatened to impose sanctions on Russia.
The European Union said the vote was "illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised".
EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday and are expected to consider imposing sanctions on Russian officials.