The speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, says Russian lawmakers will support Crimea’s decision if the Ukrainian region decides in a referendum to join Russia.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, signed a decree Friday canceling the decision by Crimea’s parliament to hold the referendum. The Moscow-backed regional legislature voted Thursday for the peninsula to become part of Russia and scheduled a referendum on the issue for March 16.
Turchynov on Thursday called the decision to hold a referendum a “farce” and accused the Russian military of organizing the vote. He said he and the Ukrainian parliament would protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty.
Ukraine’s interim prime minister said Friday that “no one in the civilized world” will recognize the referendum’s results.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters he wants to “warn separatists” and others he described as “traitors of the Ukrainian state” that their decisions are “unlawful” and “unconstitutional.” U.S. and European leaders have also called the referendum illegal.
Ukraine and Russia have been locked in a tense standoff since Russian forces entered the Crimean peninsula a week ago, Voice of America reports.