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Crimea parliament votes to become independent state via referendum

Crimea's parliament voted Tuesday to secede from the Ukraine and declare itself an independent state in the event of a yes vote in a referendum scheduled for Sunday. Ukraine's parliament, calling [RIA Novosti report] the Crimean referendum unconstitutional and violative of international law, warned Crimea to cancel the referendum [Guardian report] by Wednesday or face dissolution. Crimea, a region within the Ukraine of majority Russian ethnicity, insists its declaration of independence does not violate international law, citing a 2010 ruling by the International Court of Justice ratifying Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia. The Crimean Parliament website [official website] reported [press release] that of the 81 deputies of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea that voted, 78 approved the declaration. The website also reported [press release] that Crimean citizens overwhelmingly support secession and have taken to the streets throughout the region to rally support. Ukraine's legislature, conversely, is urging Crimeans not to participate in the referendum, asserting that, constitutionally, Ukraine's central government is the only legitimate authority that can oversee foreign affairs.

Crimea's cry for independence is the latest incident escalating tensions [BBC timeline] in the region. 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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