The Crimean parliament voted Tuesday that the Black Sea peninsula will declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum. Crimea’s regional legislature on Tuesday adopted a “declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.” The document specified that Crimea will become an independent state if its residents vote on Sunday in favor of joining Russia in the referendum. Residents who vote in the March 16 referendum reportedly will have two choices regarding whether to join Russia — “yes now” or “yes later.” According to KyivPost.com, voting “no” is not an option and residents will have to vote to join Russia immediately or declare independence and then join Russia.
“There is no option for ‘no,’ they are not counting the number of votes, but rather which one of the options gets more votes,” Kharkiv Human Rights Group member Volodymyr Yavorkiy told the Post. “Moreover, the first question is about Crimea joining Russia, the second — about it declaring independence and joining Russia. In other words, there is no difference.”
Western nations have said they will not recognize the vote as legitimate. But the move might be used as an attempt to ease tensions with Crimea existing as a self-proclaimed state without Russia moving quickly to incorporate it into its territory.