SIMFEROPOL, March 11 (RAPSI) – Crimea’s Supreme Council on Tuesday adopted a declaration supporting independence from Ukraine, as well as  a motion to join the Russian Federation, the council’s spokesperson told RIA Novosti.

The declaration was approved by 78 of 100 lawmakers.

The declaration states that the Crimean parliament and Sevastopol City Council adopted the decision on the basis of “the UN Charter and other international legislative documents supporting the right for self-determination.”  Crimea will be declared an independent state with a republican form of government, if the referendum set for March 16 will result in the decision to join the Russian Federation.

Crimea, a peninsula of some 2 million people, has resisted the authority of the leadership that came to power last month after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovich, which followed months of mostly peaceful protests in Kiev.  Russian President Vladimir Putin this week described the current Ukrainian government as illegitimate, in effect bolstering the Crimean government’s position.

On February 25 a group of Crimean residents started an open-ended protest rally at the parliament building. They demand that the republican parliament refuse to recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, which has come to power through public unrest and bloody clashes in Kiev, and hold a referendum to choose the development path for the Crimea.