Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko expressed optimism on Wednesday that Russia will withdraw its support for the Crimean Parliament's planned March 16 referendum.
Speaking at a press conference, the justice minister said, "We, like the whole international community, do not recognize this referendum. We expect changes in the position of the Russian administration in the near future."
The referendum will ask residents of Ukraine's mostly pro-Russian Crimea region to decide whether to remain a part of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation.
1. Do you support Crimea's reunification with Russia?
2. Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Crimean Republic dated 1992 and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine?
Petrenko has called the referendum "illegal" under the national constitution that prohibits "changing the status of Crimea ... by local referendum -- it is a matter for a nationwide referendum."
[Interfax Ukraine News Agency]