SEVASTOPOL, March 06, /ITAR-TASS/. Thousands of residents of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula applauded on Thursday the Sevastopol City Council’s decision earlier in the day to hold a referendum on accession to Russia.
A total of 49 deputies out of 50 of those present in the City Council’s session hall voted for the decision to hold the referendum. The public vote will take place on March 16, on the same day that the Autonomous Ukrainian Republic of Crimea will hold a similar referendum of its own.
The questions for the residents of Sevastopol include two questions put to the Crimean referendum. In all, voters in Sevastopol will have to answer three questions:
1) Do you support the accession of the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation as its constituent member?
2) Do you support reunification of Crimea with Russia as a constituent member of the Russian Federation?
3) Do you support the reinstatement of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine?
When Sevastopol Mayor Alexei Chaly went out to those who gathered in front of the building, the residents greeted him with ovations and shouts “Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia!”
“We’ve been waiting for it for 23 years,” Chaly told the residents, some of whom were waving Russian and Sevastopol flags.
Cossacks and militia units ensured order at the rally.
Sevastopol is a city on the Crimean Peninsula which is not part of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea but has the status of a national significance city in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s legitimate president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted in a violent uprising in February. He fled Ukraine. The Ukrainian unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, appointed an interim head of state, set early presidential elections and approved a new government, which Crimea does not recognize.
Russia does not recognize the new Ukrainian authorities either. President Vladimir Putin told journalists Tuesday the recent developments in Ukraine were “an anti-constitutional coup.” Putin added that Yanukovich remained the only legitimate Ukrainian president, and added that Ukraine's parliament was “partially” legitimate.
Russia leases from Ukraine a naval base in the port of Sevastopol and has its Black Sea Fleet deployed there.
The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, on March 1 authorized the use of Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine “until the situation normalizes” in the country. During Tuesday’s press conference, Putin said that “so far, there is no need” to use the Russian armed forces in Ukraine.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, recently said Yanukovich had written a letter to Putin dated March 1 asking him to use Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine “to reinstate legality, peace, law and order, stability and protect the Ukrainian population.”
Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when First Secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party’s Central Committee, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred it to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine.