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SIMFEROPOL, March 10, 15:11 /ITAR-TASS/. With less than a week left before a referendum in the Autonomous Ukrainian Republic of Crimea on whether to join Russia, more than 80% of Crimea’s residents support the option to accede, the Crimean parliament speaker said Monday.
“There are over 80% of those who are for Crimea’s accession to Russia,” Crimea Supreme Council chairman Vladimir Konstantinov told journalists. He was referring to data from an opinion poll conducted Sunday.
“Earlier, it was 75%, but the situation has changed in the past 1,5 weeks,” the speaker said, attributing the change to the actions of the new Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine’s legitimate leader Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a violent uprising in February. The parliament appointed an interim head of state and approved a new government, which Crimea, where most residents are Russians, and Russia do not recognize.
Crimea’s Supreme Council on March 6 decided that the republic would secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia. The issue was put to a referendum that would take place on March 16.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction.