Crimean Parliament Votes to Join Russia
Question will be put to the people in 10 days
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 5:24 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2014 7:57 AM CST
A Crimean, left, and Russian, right, flags fly over the local government building in downtown Simferopol, Ukraine, on Sunday, March 2, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

(Newser) – Ukraine's prime minister yesterday said Crimea would remain part of Ukraine, but Crimea itself isn't exactly on board. Lawmakers there today voted to join Russia, and set a March 16 referendum in which the Crimean people will be offered the same choice. One lawmaker put it plainly to the AP: "This is our response to the disorder and lawlessness in Kiev. We will decide our future ourselves." The Crimean parliament voted 78-0 (with eight abstentions) "to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation," reports Reuters, which cites diplomats as saying today's developments could not have occurred without the OK of Vladimir Putin.

A Kremlin rep says only that Putin had been made aware of the Crimean vote, and Crimean parliament sources say lawmakers are waiting for Moscow to respond, per the BBC. Ukraine's interim government says the referendum is illegal, and has launched a criminal investigation into Crimea's prime minister. Meanwhile:

  • The EU is holding an emergency session on Ukraine in Brussels today and has made moves to "punish" Viktor Yanukovich, reports the New York Times: All assets of Yanukovich, two of his sons, and 15 members of his inner circle held on European soil have been frozen. The EU suspects all 18 of "the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine," the Los Angeles Times notes.
  • The White House today hit pro-Russian opponents to Ukraine's new government with new visa restrictions, the AP reports. The restrictions target those accused of threatening Ukraine's sovereignty and borders, and financial sanctions are coming next. John Kerry announced them before a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.