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Crimean PM surprised by discussion of Western sanctions against Russia

March 06, 2014, 23:55 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL
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SIMFEROPOL, March 06 /ITAR-TASS/. The prime minister of Crimea (autonomy within Ukraine), Sergei Aksyonov, said he was surprised by the discussion of Western sanctions against Russia over the latest events on the peninsula.

“We live here and we can choose our own future. Since when are sanctions imposed for that? What is this? Persecution for political reasons? No one imposed any sanctions in Lvov where a military unit was seized, prosecutors and police officers were thrown out, and those who did that proclaimed themselves the leaders of the region', Aksyonov said on Thursday, March 6.

“But as soon as Russians had for the first time consolidated for the protection of their interests - not only Russians because Russians and Ukrainians live here - everyone got immediately excited and started talking about some sanctions. Do we advise America or Germany how to deal with their autonomies or tell their people what they should do? It’s their right just as it is the right of the people of Crimea to decide what they want,” the prime minister said.

The Crimean parliament on Thursday ruled to hold a referendum on accession to Russia on March 16. Earlier it was scheduled for March 30. Three questions will be asked during the referendum:

1. Do you support the City of Sevastopol’s joining the Russian Federation as its constituent member?

2. Do you support Crimea’s reunification with Russia as its constituent member?

3. Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea of 1992 and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

Parliament-appointed acting President Alexander Turchinov said the upcoming referendum in Crimea (autonomy within Ukraine) on its accession to Russia would be “unlawful and illegitimate'.

“The Verkhovna Rada will initiate the dissolution of the Supreme Soviet of Crimea,” he said in a televised address on Thursday, March 6.

He stressed that any change to the country’s border could be discussed only in a nationwide referendum and “a local Crimean referendum is impossible.'

Turchinov said he had stopped the Crimean parliament’s decision on the referendum. “By virtue of my powers I have stopped the decision of the Crimean parliament,' he said.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said the Crimean referendum would be unlawful as running counter to the Ukrainian Constitution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with him and said that the referendum in Crimea would be unlawful.

She made it clear that if Russia took further destabilising steps in Ukraine, the European Union would have to revise its relations with Moscow, which in turn may have economic consequences. “We do not want that,' she said.

French President Francois Hollande said the EU was imposing political sanctions against Russia but did not rule out economic ones.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the referendum in Crimea would be unlawful and described it as a step in the wrong direction.

He called for the speediest commencement of dialogue between Russia and Ukraine in order to resolve the crisis and warned that the EU would take further steps (meaning sanctions) if Moscow did not start a direct dialogue with Kiev.

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