KIEV, April 15 (RAPSI) – The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on Tuesday adopted legislation recognizing Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, both of which were recently reunified with Russia, as “temporarily occupied territories.”
The law was passed with 228 votes, only two votes more than the required threshold.
The Crimean Peninsula, the city of Sevastopol, airspace above them, and their territorial waters are now considered occupied. However, an amendment aiming to criminalize collaboration with the Russian authorities was struck from the final document.
The law stipulates that the occupied territory is still subject to Ukrainian law, but that any human rights violation is Russia’s responsibility, and all financial and material damages for the Crimean accession should be sought from Russia.
Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking republic within Ukraine, was part of Russia until it was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an official address to federal and regional officials that the decision was made with clear violations of the constitutional standards at the time.
Crimea moved for independence from Ukraine after having refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February.
On March 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state. The same day, the leaders of Crimea and the city of Sevastapol and Putin signed a treaty unifying Crimea with Russia.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the decision to accept Crimea to the Russian Federation was based on the free will of the people of Crimea as expressed during the referendum, which complies with the international law.