Putin says Crimea vote democratic, issue of vital importance to Russia

MOSCOW, March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:16am EDT

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MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said a referendum in which Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia was held "in full accordance with democratic procedures and international legal norms".

"The (Crimean) issue has a vital importance, a historic importance for all of us," Putin said after a standing ovation in an address to a joint session of parliament after approving a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia.

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