Ukrainian Parliament dissolves regional assembly in Crimea

March 15, 2014 at 2:50 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, March 15 (UPI) -- The Ukrainian Parliament Saturday voted to dissolve the regional assembly in Crimea ahead of the region's controversial vote to secede from Ukraine.

Of the 296 Ukrainian lawmakers who voted Saturday, 278 of them voted in favor of dissolving Crimea's assembly, Russia's state-supported RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The decision is effective immediately.

The vote on a referendum on the semi-autonomous southern region leaving Ukraine and joining Russia scheduled for Sunday was declared unconstitutional by Ukraine's Constitutional Court Friday.

Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia Saturday re-affirmed Ukraine's interim government's position that the referendum is illegitimate and would not be recognized by Kiev or the international community, CNN reported.

Deshchytsia said the government would be interested in talking about giving Crimea great autonomy and economic growth, but would only do so at a table, "not talking to the guns which are on the streets of the Crimean cities."

Russia Saturday vetoed a U.S. draft resolution before the U.N. Security Council declaring the Crimea referendum invalid. China abstained from the vote.

"Of course Russia has a veto, but if Russia will not support this resolution, it means Russia is not in favor of settling this crisis in a peaceful manner," Deshchytsia said.

Meanwhile, two people were killed and five others injured overnight in clashes between pro-Moscow and pro-Kiev protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, RIA Novosti.

The clashes began Friday night in Kharkiv's Svoboda Square and later moved to a pro-Ukrainian group's headquarters in the city.

Witnesses said shots were fired between the groups and that the pro-Russia side threw Molotov cocktails into the building.

Police arrested 40 people after the incident.

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