03/06/2014, 00.00
UKRAINE - RUSSIA
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Crimea's Parliament asks to Join Russia

A referendum date has been set for 16 March in violation of Ukraine's constitution, which provides for a pan-Ukrainian referendum. Christian leaders are united to defend the territorial integrity of the country, including Metropolitan Onufry, who has ties with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Kyiv (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Crimea's parliament has asked Moscow to become part of the Russian Federation. If there is a positive response from Moscow, Crimea will hold a referendum on 16 March. The proposal was adopted by a vote of 78 in favour and 8 abstentions.

In Kyiv, the government said that according to the Constitution of Ukraine "alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by an all-Ukrainian referendum".

The Crimean Peninsula has been at the centre of recent tensions. With an ethnic Russian majority (57 per cent), it has resisted the new Ukrainian government's shift towards Europe.

Russian and pro-Russian military have isolated the region and forced Ukrainian forces to stay in their barracks.

In case of a referendum under the current constitution, it is almost certain that a pro-Russia vote would fail since ethnic Russians are only 17 per cent of the overall Ukrainian population.

In recent days, Ukraine's religious leaders have come out openly in favour of a solution through peaceful talks to preserve national unity, including Metropolitan Onufry, locum tenens (pro tem head) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is tied to the Moscow Patriarchate

In an appeal to Kirill, Onufry asked the Orthodox Patriarch in Moscow "to lift your voice about the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state" and "prevent bloodshed on the territory of Ukraine.

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