Crimea cannot be denied right to hold self-determination referendum

Sevastopol airport
Sevastopol airport calm

The legitimacy of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada decision, which removed President Viktor Yanukovych from office, is highly doubtful, the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said. “As far as I understand, the process of Yanukovych’s deposing was rather confused and its legitimacy causes qualms,” Pushkov told reporters.

The opposition leaders who struck the deal with Yanukovych on February 21 on guarantee of EU representatives agreed that he would stay in office until the presidential election.

“It seems the sole purpose of the [February] 21 agreement guaranteed by the European Union was to remove Yanukovych from office. But that agreement said he would be the president until the elections were held. This is why Yanukovych says he remains the legitimate president of Ukraine,” the parliamentarian continued.

This is a formal agreement and no one has explained why “it was suddenly disavowed,” Pushkov said, describing the situation as a serious collision.

Crimea cannot be denied the right to hold a referendum on self-determination, head of the State Duma international affairs committee Alexei Pushkov told reporters on Friday.

“If Crimea holds a referendum, this will be an absolutely legislative and legally binding base for changing its status, if the majority of the population votes for this,” he said.

Pushkov said such a referendum would be a more legal form for changing Crimea’s status than “spontaneous Maidan” in Kiev.

“If we are told that the Maidan could be a source of power, well, this is the will of the people. But why then can’t the will of the people be the source of power and self-determination for Crimea. I think it cannot be denied this right,” the parliamentarian said.

On Thursday, the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea announced it would hold a referendum of the autonomy’s status and expansion of its powers.

The Russian and Ukrainian governments continue to maintain “working” contacts following the change of power in Kiev, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said.

“These contacts continue at the working level,” he told Interfax after being asked whether negotiations could be held with the Ukrainian government any time soon.

Dvorkovich declined to comment on the prospects for holding official negotiations with the Ukrainian side.

Ukraine’s interior minister claims Russian forces have now taken control of two airports in Crimea.

Shortly afterwards a military airport near the port of Sevastopol was seized. There are no reports of any bloodshed or clashes near where the Russian Black Sea fleet has a base.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has described the raid as an armed invasion in violation of international accords.

Source: Voice of Russia, TASS, Interfax