Vladimir Putin / Yuri Kadobnov, AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin is justifying intervention in Crimea partly by claiming that the Ukraine government is illegitimate and has no right to say whether Crimea can decide for itself whether it should secede.
But he's got it backward, political analysts say.
"This (Crimea government) is a fake parliament because it was not elected and it was proclaimed under the Russian occupation - the democratic procedure under the guns of a foreign army does not work," said Yaroslav Pylynskyi, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, a policy research institute in Kiev.
"The fact is that the procedure of the change of the government and the parliament in Crimea was under the guns of a foreign army so a fake parliament adopted a fake government," he said.
Ukraine's Constitution allows for the region of Crimea to have a certain level of autonomy, such as a local legislature to deal with some matters affecting Crimea.
But Crimeans also send representatives to the national parliament in Kiev, which reserves the right to conduct military, foreign and national economic policy. The majority party or a majority coalition of parties in that parliament can seat the president.
In that sense, Ukraine is like a typical European parliament, and Crimea is comparable to a state in the United States in some ways.
But in other ways it is much different. Crimea has strong cultural and linguistic ties to Russia. Crimea was a province of Russia for a century-and-a-half until 1954, when the Soviet Union unilaterally made it part of Ukraine, then a republic under Soviet rule.
When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Ukraine declared independence with Crimea attached. To deal with the issue of Crimean independence, the Ukraine Constitution enshrined it as an autonomous republic within Ukraine, but part of it still.
Crimeans have representatives that sit in the Ukrainian Parliament - proportional to its size as similar to the U.S. House of Representatives.Crimea has a capital in Simferopol.
The protest movement against Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych that took place in the Ukraine capital of Kiev did not drag him from office. But it did pressure the parliament to vote him out. Once done, the pro-Moscow Yanukovych, who is from Russian-speaking East Ukraine, was ordered arrested by the Ukraine justice ministry for the killing of protesters by forces under his control.
The national parliament named a temporary president, a deal it made to hold new national elections in December was scrapped in a vote that scheduled them for May. Parliament members from Yanukovych's own party went along.
The reaction to all this in Crimea does not appear to have been done democratically or by the book.
Armed men assumed to be Russian troops or pro-Russian militia stormed the Crimea Parliament building and locked it down. Anatoly Mogiliov, the president of Crimea, who is a member of Yanukovych's Party of Regions, was ordered out.
In a session not open to the public, the Crimea parliament allegedly appointed Sergei Askyonov as prime minister of Crimea. Askyonov is a member of a small, obscure political group called from the Russian Unity Party, which won too few votes in parliamentary elections in 2012 to win even one seat in Kiev.
Businessman Alexei Chaly announced he was mayor of Sevastopol, elected he said in a rally Feb. 23 and named chairman of Sevastopol's executive committee, which did not exist in the city previously. He is running the city and said he is backed by Moscow.
Chaly then declared he would make sure no one in Crimea voted in national elections. The parliament in Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation on Thursday, setting March 16 as the date for a referendum for voters in Crimea to decide the destiny of the peninsula. There is no provision in the Ukraine Constitution for such a vote.
All of this is described as legitimate by Putin, and the votes undertaken in Kiev illegitimate. Western nations disagree.
Still, some say they believe secession to Russia is not certain because a vote to leave Ukraine will hurt Crimeans where it hurts most, the pocketbook.
"The government of Ukraine supplies water and electricity to Crimea and to the Crimean population," Pylynskyi said. "Also, they will definitely lose almost all the Ukrainian tourism and it is the main source of money in this region."
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Read the original story: Analysts call Crimea's Parliament a fake government