The presidium of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is initiating a referendum across the republic on the subject of "improving autonomous status and broadening its powers" and made the relevant announcement, Crimean Verkhovna Rada Chairman's Secretary Oksana Kornyichuk said.

The statement says, in particular, that the quiet in the Crimea is under threat as a result of "the non-constitutional seizure of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists supported by armed gangs," Crimean media outlets said.

"Under these conditions, the Crimean Supreme Council, being the highest representative body of power in the Crimea, and based on the will of the Crimeans who elected it, is taking upon itself full responsibility for the fate of the Crimea. According to the fundamental democratic canons, the Presidium of the Crimean Parliament considers the application of the principles of direct people's rule the only possible way of exiting the current situation. We are convinced that only a Crimean-wide referendum over the improvement of the autonomous status and broadening of its powers will enable the Crimeans to decide the future of the autonomy without any outside pressure," the statement said.

The Supreme Council session was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (4 p.m. Moscow time) on Thursday, but its agenda is unknown. It is also unknown whether the Crimean Supreme Council deputies have accepted the Presidium's proposal.

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