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Crimea parliament declares independence following referendum

The Crimean parliament on Monday formally declared the region independent and asked to join the Russian Federation following a vote to secede from Ukraine. The US and EU have called the vote illegal [press release], and the EU stated that the vote's outcome would not be recognized [AP report]. The US on Monday announced sanctions [AP report] against seven Russian officials while the EU's foreign ministers imposed travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine. Though the government in Kiev refuses to recognize [BBC report] the results of the vote, Moscow considers the vote legitimate. The Crimea region, which has been under the control of pro-Russia forces since late February, has appealed to other countries as well as the UN to recognize Crimean independence. As a result of the vote, Crimean officials claim Ukrainian laws no longer apply in the region, and Ukrainian state property there will be nationalized and made part of the property of the Crimean Republic.

Crimea's vote for independence is the latest incident escalating tensions [BBC timeline] in the region. On Sunday residents in the Crimea region began voting [JURIST report] in the referendum to secede from Ukraine and seek annexation by Russia. Last week Crimea's parliament voted to secede [JURIST report] from Ukraine and declare itself an independent state in the event of a yes vote in Sunday's poll. Protests erupted in Crimea last month decrying the recent ousting of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich and campaigning for annexation with Russia. Russian forces quickly moved in to control the region allegedly to protect their national interests and ethnic Russians in Ukraine. US President Barack Obama condemned [JURIST report] Russia's use of armed forces calling it a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. Last week the Crimean Parliament requested [JURIST report] permission from the Russian government to join its Federation. The pro-Russian Crimean Parliament denies [Forbes report] the legitimacy of Ukraine's new pro-western government which has issued a warrant for Yanukovich's arrest for the killing of civilians during protests in Ukraine's capital of Kiev.

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