The Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Ukraine 23 years back as overwhelming majority of population resisted such step at the 1991 regional referendum, State Duma chairman said in a parliamentary speech.
Sergey Naryshkin addressed the State Duma on Wednesday in connection with the Day of Russia holiday celebrated on June 12. He reaffirmed that recent move to accept Crimea’s plea to enter the Russian Federation justified, saying that the region had been annexed by Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Duma speaker recalled that in January 1991, the residents of Crimea held a referendum on whether the regions should belong to the newly formed state of Ukraine and 93 percent of participants (with voter turnout of 81 percent) opposed this decision.
“In essence, this is when the annexation took place – 23 years ago. It was a peaceful annexation, but this is what it was,” Naryshkin told MPs.
He noted that such developments were possible due to irresponsibility of certain Russian politicians, but did not expand on the subject.
The treaty of Crimea’s accession into the Russian Federation was signed in mid-March this year, shortly after more than 96 percent of the autonomous republic’s residents voted in favor of the move in a referendum. The ballot was prompted by the coup that brought nationalists with a clearly anti-Russian agenda to power in Kiev. According to the 2001 census, over 58 percent of the Crimean population is ethnic Russian, about 24 percent Ukrainian and about 12 percent Crimean Tatar.
The Russian parliament quickly passed several bills allowing Crimea’s accession into the federation and on March 21 they were signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
In early April the Crimean parliament approved a new Constitution for the region, making it an inseparable part of the Russian Federation and instituting some changes to political procedures that would ensure smooth cooperation with federal authorities.