On 21-22 March 2014, at its 98th Plenary Session the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe adopted the Opinion on “Whether the decision taken by the Supreme Council of the Autono,ous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine to organise a referendum on becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution is compatible with constitutional principles".
In its Opinion the Venice Commission clearly states that the Constitution of Ukraine like other constitutions of Council of Europe member states, provides for the indivisibility of the country and does not allow the holding of any local referendum on secession from Ukraine. This results in particular from Articles 1, 2, 73 and 157 of the Constitution. These provisions in conjunction with Chapter X of the Constitution show that this prohibition also applies to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Constitution of Crimea does not allow the Supreme Soviet of Crimea to call such a referendum. Only a consultative referendum on increased autonomy could be permissible under the Ukrainian Constitution.
Moreover, according to the Opinion of the Venice Commission, circumstances in Crimea did not allow the holding of a referendum in line with European democratic standards. Any referendum on the status of a territory should have been preceded by serious negotiations among all stakeholders. Such negotiations did not take place.