MOSCOW, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Moscow demands an independent investigation into the events in Kiev, where some 100 people died last month, a top Russian legislator said Friday.
"We stick to this position and will ask the international community to set up an independent commission for investigating the killings," Valentina Matvienko, speaker of Russia's Federal Council (upper house of parliament), told reporters.
She also said the Federation Council would support the result of a referendum in Crimea about joining Russia scheduled for March 16.
"This decision will be legitimate," Matvienko told a joint news conference with visiting Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov.
Comparing it with the referendum on independence due in Scotland, Matvienko said Crimea's decision was consistent with contemporary international practices.
She also dismissed fears that Russia and Ukraine could wage a war, calling them "absolutely absurd."
Earlier on Friday, Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, also assured that the Duma would uphold the outcome of the referendum.
The Crimean parliament on Thursday voted to join Russia and would hold a referendum on this issue on March 16.
UN envoy to leave Ukraine on Saturday after mission cut short: spokesman
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 (Xinhua) -- UN special envoy to Ukraine Robert Serry "is continuing his consultations with Ukrainian and diplomatic interlocutors in Kiev today," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said here Friday, adding that he will leave the Ukrainian capital on Saturday.
"He will then return to Jerusalem next week where he is based as the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process," Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here. Full story
U.S., Bulgaria, Romania to hold joint naval drill in Black Sea: statement
SOFIA, March 7 (Xinhua) -- A total of five U.S., Bulgarian and Romanian naval ships will hold a tactical drill in the northwestern part of the Black Sea on Tuesday, said the Bulgarian Navy in a statement Friday.
"The episodes of the exercise were planned in 2013. They are part of the joint training of the navies of the three countries, and have no relation with the events in Ukraine and the northeastern part of the Black Sea," said the Navy's statement. Full story
Russian experts downplay effect of Ukraine crisis on Russian economy
ST. PETERSBURG, March 7 (Xinhua) -- In a series of interviews with local media on Friday, leading specialists at St. Petersburg State University have downplayed the possible negative effects of Russian involvement in Ukraine's civil conflict on the Russian economy.
Responded to threats of sanctions from Western powers, Vladimir Golovatyuk, associate professor of economics, argued that "any sanctions against Russia will also have a boomerang effect on our partners," citing the high degree of economic integration between Russia and its main European partners including Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. Full story
IMF ready to provide assistance to Ukraine: official
KIEV, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is ready to provide financial and technical assistance to Kiev, the fund's senior official said Friday.
"The IMF stands ready to help the people of Ukraine and support the authorities' economic program to put Ukraine firmly on the path of good economic governance and sustainable growth," said Reza Moghadam, director of the IMF's European Department, in a statement. Full story