Lawmakers in autonomous Crimea declared independence from Ukraine

March 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, March 11 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Ukraine's autonomous, pro-Russia Crimea declared independence Tuesday ahead of a referendum on breaking away from Kiev and joining Moscow.

The declaration was the latest attempt to firm up the legal basis for Sunday's referendum that has been declared unconstitutional by the country's leadership in Kiev, Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

The text of the declaration, published on the Crimea Parliament's website, said the action adheres to international law, citing a 2010 International Court of Justice ruling affirming Kosovo had the right to declare independence from Serbia. Amid strong reaction from world leaders, Russian officials insisted independence for Kosovo threatened to undermine international law.

In Kiev Tuesday, Ukraine's Parliament ordered the Crimea Parliament to halt the popular vote or face dissolution.

RIA Novosti said lawmakers in Kiev appealed to the citizens of Crimea not to participate in the vote and said calls for annexation by Russia violated the Ukrainian Constitution.

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