Ukraine's parliament began a procedure to dissolve the regional assembly in Crimea after it asked to join Russia, Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov said Thursday.
"The Rada (parliament in Kiev) will begin the procedure for dissolution," Turchynov said hours after the assembly in the tense peninsula adopted a motion to become part of the Russian Federation.
Turchynov, speaking in a televised address, also slammed the Crimea legislators' decision as a "crime" backed by the Russian military.
New prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former Ukrainian boxer turned politician Vitali Klitschko had variously described the referendum move on Thursday as "an illegitimate decision" and a "huge provocation against Ukraine".
EU leaders holding an emergency summit on the Ukraine crisis also called the referendum illegal.
The parliament in Crimea, which has come under de facto control by pro-Russian forces since the ousting of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday to examine a request for their region to join the Russian Federation.
The decision was also to be put to a "referendum" on the peninsula only on March 16.
Crimea was attached to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954, but Moscow was still allowed to maintain its Black Sea Fleet at the main port of Sevastopol, its home for some 250 years.