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Sevastopol to join Russia after referendum - city administration head

SEVASTOPOL, March 08 /ITAR-TASS/. Sevastopol, the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine, will join Russia as its constituent member after a referendum, city administration acting head Dmitry Belik said on Saturday, March 8.

“We will hold one referendum with the rest of Crimea, but after it two entities will join Russia as its constituent members: Sevastopol and Crimea. And changes to the constitution will also be made separately,” he said.

According to Belik, two questions will be asked at the referendum: “Do you support reunification of Sevastopol with Russia as its constituent member?” and “Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of 1992 and Sevastopol’s to Ukraine?”

Speaking at a rally held in the centre of the city on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Belik stressed that social allowances would continue to be paid after accession to Russia. “The salaries of public sector employees, medic and social workers will be preserved at their current level as a minimum or maybe even increased. We are now working in close contact with Russian officials over a new social system for the city,” Belik said.

He thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian parliament for their support.

The Crimean parliament on Thursday, March 6, 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 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?

However, parliament-appointed acting Ukrainian 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.

However, the Russian Federation Council said it would support Crimea’s decision to join Russia if its people vote so in the referendum.