MOSCOW, March 7 Crimea's parliament has the
right to hold a referendum on the region's future status and if
its people vote to join Russia, Russia's upper house of
parliament will support their decision, the assembly's speaker
said on Friday.
Dismissing suggestions that Russia was planning to invade
Ukraine, Valentina Matviyenko supported the decision by
parliament in Ukraine's southern region on Thursday to hold a
referendum on joining Russia on March 16.
"Yesterday we learned about the historic decision taken by
the Crimean parliament to hold a referendum on accession, on
entry into the Russian Federation," said Valentina Matviyenko,
head of the Russian Federation Council.
"Without a doubt, the Crimean parliament, as a legitimate
authority, has that right ... The sovereign right of the people
to determine their future," she said, welcoming a delegation
from Crimea which included the region's new Moscow-installed
leader, Vladimir Konstantinov.
The talks took place after the most serious international
confrontation of this century escalated when Crimea's parliament
voted to join Russia and moved up the date for the referendum.
"If the people of Crimea take the decision in the referendum
to join Russia, we, as the upper house, will of course support
such a decision," said Matviyenko.
She dismissed suggestions there would be war between Russia
and Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had
the right to invade if the situation in Ukraine worsened.
"It's complete nonsense, it absolutely does not reflect our
intentions, the feelings of empathy and the pain we feel for the
Ukrainian people," she said.
"We are absolutely sure that there will never be a war
between the two brotherly nations."