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Ukraine declares vote illegal

Xinhua | Updated: 2014-03-08 08:41

Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Alexandr Turchynov signed a decree on Friday vetoing the Crimean parliament's decision to hold a referendum on joining Russia, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Under the Constitution of Ukraine as well as the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, any regional referendum is illegal, the decree said.

The issue could be settled solely by the national referendum approved by the country's parliament, it said.

On Thursday, the parliament of Crimea voted to become part of Russia.

The parliament session also set a referendum for March 16 to ask Crimeans to vote for whether they would like to remain part of Ukraine or join Russia.

Later on Thursday, Turchynov, who is also Ukraine's acting president, described the parliament's move as a "farce" and a "crime against the state" and said that the country's parliament has started legal procedures to dismiss Crimean lawmakers.

In Moscow, Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, said on Friday that Russia would respect any choice made by the Crimean people in the upcoming referendum on the autonomous republic's future status.

Tensions in Crimea, heavily populated by ethnic Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians, flared up last week following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

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