Move for referendum on Crimea is denounced

2:44 AM, Mar 7, 2014   |    comments
Residents carry giant Russian flags and shout slogans rallying in front of parliament building, Simferopol, Ukraine (file photo)
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SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine appears to be headed toward a possible breakup -- after lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared that they want to join Russia, and that they will put the decision to voters in ten days.

Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, pushed a measure that would make possible a handover of Crimea.

The action in Crimea's parliament was essentially a declaration of independence from Ukraine. The parliament said the Crimean people -- 60 percent of whom are ethnic Russian -- will decide whether they want to be a part of Russia.

In Kiev, Ukraine's prime minister quickly denounced the action. Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the "so-called referendum" has "no legal grounds at all."

At an emergency EU summit in Brussels, a senior Western diplomat promised that EU leaders would make it clear that the referendum won't be recognized.

EU leaders slap initial sanctions on Russia

Germany's chancellor says it can't be "business as usual" with Russia.

Angela Merkel spoke after the European Union took action against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine.

The EU suspended talks with Moscow on an economic pact and a visa agreement. And EU officials say there could also be travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of a summit if Moscow doesn't end its aggression and join talks to halt the crisis.

The move in Brussels came on the heels of sanctions by the Obama administration in Washington, D.C., which imposed visa restrictions on pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukrainian government in Kiev, also clearing the way for financial sanctions.

Associated Press

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