Crimean parliament votes to join Russia

Crimea (Ukraine), March 6: Parliamentarians in the Ukrainian region of Crimea Thursday voted to formally become part of the Russian Federation, BBC reported.

If the parliament’s request is granted, the decision would be put to the Crimean people for their verdict in a referendum March 16, the autonomous region’s parliament said.

The announcement from Crimea’s parliament came as European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss how to respond to Russian troop deployment on Ukrainian soil.

A minister in Kiev, however, said they believe it would be unconstitutional for Crimea to join Russia.

Crimea, having a mostly ethnic Russian population, has been at the centre of tensions following the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich.

Pro-Russian and Russian forces have been for several days in de facto control of the peninsula, which already enjoys a degree of autonomy from Kiev.

The Crimean parliament resolved “to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation”.

Crimea region, a peninsula on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, has 2.3 million people. Most of them identify themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian language.

Russia has been the dominant power in Crimea for most of the last 200 years, since it annexed the region in 1783. It was, however, transferred by Moscow to Ukraine – then part of the Soviet Union – in 1954. Some ethnic Russians see that as a historical wrong.

In 2010, the Crimea region voted heavily for Yanukovych during the presidential election. Many people here today believe that he is the victim of a coup — leading to attempts by separatists in Crimea’s parliament to push for a vote on whether it should leave Ukraine.