Russia to finalise Crimea accession procedure this week

Moscow, March 20: All legal procedures governing accession of Crimea with Russia will be completed this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

“Currently, practical steps are being undertaken to implement the treaty signed by Russian, Crimean and Sevastopol leaders about accession of the two new regions into Russia,” Xinhua quoted Lavrov as saying in a meeting in the ministry.

He noted that Moscow would continue protecting Russians abroad with political, diplomatic and other legal means.

“We will insist that the countries where our fellow citizens live, fully respect their rights and freedoms,” Lavrov said.

On Wednesday, Russia began to issue passports to the residents of the Crimean peninsula.

President Vladimir Putin Tuesday signed the treaty with leaders of Crimea to accept the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as part of Russian territory.

The Russian parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, is set to ratify the treaty Thursday.

Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic that once belonged to Russia, held a referendum Sunday with some 96.6 percent of voters opting to join Russia.