Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Russia's President Putin moves towards annexing Crimea

March 18 (BBC News Europe) Mr Putin is due to address both houses of the Russian parliament in a special session at 15:00 local time (11:00 GMT). A delegation of Crimea's new leaders is also expected to attend. Russian news website Gazeta.ru, quoting sources, says that after the speech, President Putin and the speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, are expected to sign an agreement on Crimea's "entry into the Russian Federation". Having approved the draft bill, Mr Putin has told MPs "to consider it practical to sign the agreement at the highest level," Russia's Interfax news agency reports. Once signed, the bill must be approved by the constitutional court and then ratified by parliament. The process is likely to be completed this week, after which Crimea is expected to be considered a new part of the Russian Federation, with the status of a republic. In a sign of the wider impact of the Crimean referendum, parliament in the breakaway Moldovan region of Trans-Dniester announced on Tuesday that it too had appealed to Moscow for the right to join Russia, reports said.