SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The Supreme Council of the Crimea decided to hold a referendum in the coming days on whether to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine.
The date of the referendum is slated for March 16, instead of March 30 decided previously, Sergey Shuvannikov, a member of the Crimean parliament announced in front of some 200,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Crimean Supreme Council.
In Ukraine, there is no law on local referendums, so the referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea may be considered as illegal.
The mostly Russian-speaking Crimea is now the epicenter of the ongoing crisis. Some 50 armed men carrying Russian navy flags took control of two airports in the Crimean capital of Simferopol and the second-largest city of Sevastopol on Friday, one day after gunmen seized the local parliament and government buildings and raised Russian flags over them.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian court has issued an arrest warrant for Crimean prime minister Sergey Aksenov, who was elected to his position in the closed session of the local parliament.
Alexandr Turchynov, parliament speaker and acting president of Ukraine, issued the decree declaring the appointment of Aksenov illegal.
Earlier, Aksenov proposed a referendum to extend Crimea's autonomy status on March 30.
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