BRUSSELS, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s interim prime minister on Thursday condemned moves in the province of Crimea to hold a referendum on breaking away and joining Russia.
Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he is meeting with EU officials for talks, that the Crimean parliament’s vote earlier in the day to secede was an “illegitimate decision.”
The prime minster reserved special condemnation for Russia, which he said was undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“We are ready for cooperation, but we are not ready to surrender and become the subordinate of Russia,” Yatsenyuk said.
In addition to a question on merging Crimea with Russia, the referendum scheduled for March 16 will include one other option on whether to approve restoring the 1992 Crimean Constitution, whereby the peninsula would remain an autonomous republic within Ukraine.
The ballot is to be printed in the Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar, the Turkic language of the Crimean Tatar community.
Neither question would allow voters to indicate a preference for independence.
Thousands of troops apparently under Russian command but lacking official insignia have taken control over Ukrainian military bases across Crimea in the past week.
Russia’s parliament has approved military intervention in Ukraine, but President Vladimir Putin has denied that troops have been deployed and has called the masked soldiers “local militia.”