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Home >> World
UPDATED: 07:43, June 07, 2006
Crimea declares itself NATO-free
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The parliament of Ukraine's Crimean autonomy on Tuesday voted to declare the peninsula a "NATO-free territory".

A total of 61 lawmakers out of 78 voted for the resolution, which was approved in a 61-0 vote.

According to Ukrainian officials, the decision came as anti-NATO protests continue on the peninsula, sparked by the arrival of US Marines in the Crimean port of Feodosiya.

Anti-NATO protestors have rallied for more than a week and some district councils have declared themselves NATO-free zones.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters that the Crimean parliament's decision would not influence Ukraine's relations with the alliance, saying it "will not change the principles that regulate relations between Ukraine and NATO."

The US Marines said they had no plans to build a military base on the peninsula and were to leave after the launch of a series of military exercises in which 17 nations, including the US, are to participate.

Yushchenko has asked the parliament to permit foreign troops to land in Ukraine as part of the international training exercises.

The Ukrainian government has made the NATO membership a top goal, despite widespread opposition across the nation.

Source: Xinhua

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