Crimea's Referendum On NATO Membership Illegal - Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- The results of a referendum on NATO membership proposed by members of parliament in the largely Russian-speaking Crimea autonomy in Ukraine will not be recognized by the Ukrainian government, a government official said Monday.

Several Communist deputies of the Crimean parliament proposed in September a local referendum on Ukraine's bid to join NATO and prepared a draft resolution of Crimea's Supreme Council, citing events at the southern Ukrainian port of Feodosia, when pro- and anti-NATO demonstrators clashed during the summer over tensions about the presence of a U.S. naval ship docked at the port.

The representative office of the Ukrainian president in the Crimean autonomy said the decision to conduct the referendum would be beyond the scope of the Supreme Council's authority.

"According to Article 92 of the Ukrainian Constitution, the foreign policy of the state is determined solely by national laws," the office said in a statement.

Ukraine had been actively seeking NATO membership until a power-sharing agreement ended a political stalemate between pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko and his Russia-leaning rival Viktor Yanukovych, who was appointed the new prime minister in August.

On September 14, Yanukovych said the country was shelving its bid to join NATO for the time being because of widespread opposition within society, and on September 21 he said in Brussels that the issue of Ukraine's accession to NATO will be decided by a national referendum.

Source: RIA Novosti