MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti) – More than 90 percent of Russians support bringing Ukraine's Crimea back into Russia’s territory, Kremlin-backed pollsters said Monday.
Additionally, 83 percent of respondents said Moscow should protect the interests of Russians and other peoples living in Crimea, even if such action could deteriorate ties with other countries.
The poll found that 86 percent of Russians agree that Crimea, which Soviet leaders gifted to Ukraine 60 years ago, is in fact Russian territory.
The political crisis in Ukraine erupted in November following a step back by President Viktor Yanukovych from closer ties with Europe. Months-long protests in the country's capital Kiev that repeatedly turned deadly eventually led to his ouster by a vote of parliament February 22.
Crimea has refused to recognize as legitimate the new leadership in the country. A referendum held Sunday in the largely Russian-ethnic autonomous republic saw over 96 percent of voters support reunification with Russia.
The opinion poll was conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center and the Public Opinion Foundation and surveyed almost 50,000 people by telephone in 83 regions across Russia on March 14 to 16. The margin of error was 1 percent.