MOSCOW, March 10 Ukraine's Crimea region has
invited the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) to send a mission to observe Sunday's referendum on
joining Russia, Russia's RIA news agency said on Monday.
It said the invitation had been issued to the Vienna-based
security and human rights organisation by the region's
But later in the day, a OSCE spokeswoman said Crimea could
not invite observers as the region was not a full-fledged state
and therefore not a member of the 57-member organisation.
"As far as we know, Crimea is not a participating state of
the OSCE, so it would be sort of hard for them to invite us,"
She also said that Ukraine, which is an OSCE member, sent no
invitation and that the organisation "respects the full
territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine".
For the past week, OSCE military observers have been unable
to enter Crimea, which is controlled by Russian forces.
On Monday, Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea's newly appointed Prime
Minister contested by central authorities in Kiev, said that the
pro-Russian authorities in the region "have cordially asked"
OSCE observers to leave.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has asked the Council of Europe human
rights watchdog to help investigate the clashes that led to
President Viktor Yanukovich's overthrow and to monitor
minorities in Crimea.