MOSCOW, March 31 (RAPSI) – Russian Justice Ministry on Monday officialy opened regional offices in Crimea and city of Sevastopol, according to the statement published on the Ministry’s website.

Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking republic within Ukraine, was part of Russia until it was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. Putin said in an official address to federal and regional officials that the decision was made with clear violations of the constitutional standards at the time.

Crimea moved for independence from Ukraine after having refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February.

On March 17, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state. The same day leaders of Crimea and the city of Sevastapol and Putin signed a treaty unifying Crimea with Russia.