The Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, having adopted the Resolution on the Conduct of All-Crimean Referendum dated March 6, 2014 #1702-6/14, violated the constitutional principle of territorial unity of Ukraine and exceeded the limits of its authorities established by the Constitution of Ukraine, the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea approved by the Law of Ukraine dated December 23, 1998 #350-XIV, the Law of Ukraine on the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea dated February 10, 1998 #90/98-VR and other legislative acts.
The fact of the violation was clearly established by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which, in its decision dated March 14, 2014 #2-rp/2014 regarding the case of the conduct of local referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (case # 1-13/2014) indicated that “the Resolution does not comply with Articles 1, 2, 5, 8, paragraph 2 of Article 19, Article 73, paragraph 3 of Article 85, paragraphs 13, 18, paragraph 20 of Article 92, Articles 132, 133, 134, 135, 137, 138 of the Constitution of Ukraine”. Having established the violation, the Court recognized as unconstitutional the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the Conduct of All-Crimean Referendum #1702-6/14 dated March 6, 2014, whereupon it became invalid.
Taking into account the said decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, on March 15, 2014 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Resolution # 891-VII, which provided for early termination of the authorities of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, whereupon it lost any legitimacy.
Despite the legitimate acts by Ukraine as territorial sovereign, the jurisdiction of which includes the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the self-proclaimed government of Crimean peninsula on March 16, 2014 conducted a plebiscite, which violates not only the laws of Ukraine in force, but also the fundamental norms of international law as enshrined in the UN Charter, the Council of Europe Statute, the 1975 CSCE Final Act and other final documents of CSCE/OSCE, the 1991 Agreement on Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States etc.
Numerous evidence, including photo and video records, and witness testimonies, including testimonies by foreign citizens, prove that the conditions of conduct of the so-called “referendum” did not meet democratic standards of conduct of referendums developed in the framework of OSCE and the Council of Europe that form an inalienable component of principles and values of these international organizations.
The fact that from February 26, 2014 this region is under de facto occupation by military units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation caused serious reservations regarding the free expression of will by its residents. The presence of Russian servicemen and militarized units in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea outside of their permanent locations, provided for by the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Status and Conditions of Presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine dated May 28, 1997 and other related bilateral agreements, completely undermined the democratic character of the election process.
Resting on the results of the pseudo-democratic “expression of will”, the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the authorities of which were constitutionally terminated, on March 17, 2014 issued the Resolution, in which it “declared Crimea an independent sovereign state, in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status”, and requested the United Nations and all states to “recognize the independent state created by the peoples of Crimea”.
The modern international law universally recognizes that the states are bound not to recognize self-proclaimed quasi-states or any situation related to their existence, if they result from illegitimate use of force. Opinio juris in this regard were repeatedly voiced in conventional and declarational international instruments, in the practice of states, arbitration and jurisdictional bodies.
Thus, in particular, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations established that “no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal”. The Draft Declaration on Rights and Duties of States prepared by the International Law Commission in 1949 (Annex to the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly #375 (IV)), documented the duty of states to “refrain from recognizing any territorial acquisition by another State” acting by “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another State…”. The Opinion #10 of July 4, 1992, of the Arbitration Commission of the Conference for Peace in Yugoslavia stated that while recognition is a discretionary act “subject only to compliance with the imperatives of general international law, and particularly those prohibiting the use of force is dealing with other states…”.
The declaration of independence of the Republic of Crimea represents an immediate consequence of the use of force and threat of force against the Ukrainian State by the Russian Federation, which, in view of Russia’s status as a nuclear state, has especially dangerous character for both territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, as well as for the international peace and security in general. The military occupation by units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea two weeks prior to the “plebiscite” represented the use of force and the threat of force against Ukraine.
Taking into account the fact that the “independence” of Crimea was declared by an illegitimate body based on the results of an anti-constitutional referendum conducted with glaring violations of all-European norms and standards of conduct of referendums, such a decision is groundless and does not imply any international and legal consequences including recognition on the part of other subjects of the international law any treaties or agreements, establ