In Crimea, Russian Influence Is Clear Ahead of Referendum

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Crimeans will head to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum to decide if they want their autonomous republic to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

NBC News’ Ed Flanagan is traveling in western Crimea ahead of the referendum. He has tweeted some of the signs of Russian influence ahead of the vote in the peninsula of approximately 2 million.

With deep historic, cultural and social ties to Russia, ethnic Russians actually make up the majority of Crimea’s population, at 58 percent. Non-Russian Ukrainians make up an estimated 24 percent and Crimean Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group, make up 12 percent.

Flanagan’s posts show the Russian influence in the western coastal city of Evpatoriya (also spelled Yevpatoria) and locals’ confidence that the peninsula will vote in favor of Russian annexation.