Crimea Moves to Join Russia
Published: March 7, 2014 (Issue # 1800)
The Crimean parliament voted in favor of joining Russia on Thursday and its pro-Russian government announced that a referendum would be held on the decision on March 16.
Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Askyonov said all state property would be nationalized, the Russian ruble adopted as the new currency, and all Ukrainian troops forced to either leave Crimea or surrender to the new government once the decision is finalized.
The news of Crimea's potential return to Russia has been well-received in Ukraine's pro-Russian organizations, but Kiev and the international community have begun questioning the referendum's legitimacy.
"Crimea wants to be part of Russia," said Alexander Svistunov, head of the Russian movement of Ukraine, at a press conference in Moscow. "We want to live with our people, and our people are in Russia."
The head of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Leonid Slutsky, announced that Russia's position on Crimea's independence would depend on the results of the March 16 referendum.
"All factions of the State Duma support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but we understand why this issue is the cause of a referendum," Slutsky told reporters on Thursday, ITAR-TASS reported. "We will determine our position, the position of the State Duma, of the Russian Federation, on the basis of the results of the March 16 referendum."
Sergei Mironov, the Duma deputy who leads the A Just Russia party, said earlier this week that he had introduced a bill to simplify the procedure for Crimea to join the Russian Federation.
Crimea's eagerness to join Russia has raised questions about the legitimacy of the upcoming referendum both in Kiev and abroad.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, who was in Brussels on Thursday for talks with EU leaders, said that a referendum in Crimea was illegitimate and that the republic "is, was and will be an integral part of Ukraine."
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