Crimea: Armed men seize government HQ, raise Russian flag (live)


Armed men seized the regional government headquarters and parliament on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, reuters.com reports.

It was not immediately known who was occupying the buildings in the regional capital Simferopol and they issued no demands, but witnesses said they spoke Russian and appeared to be ethnic Russian separatists.

Interfax news agency quoted a witness as saying there were about 60 people inside and they had many weapons. It said no one had been hurt when the buildings were seized in the early hours by Russian speakers in uniforms without designating marks.

It is the so-called ‘Russian-language self-defense forces’ who are keeping governmental buildings under control at the moment, unian.ua reports.

{movie}Live from Crimea, Ukraine.|right|15041{/movie}

Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership in Kiev following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday.

With a part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet based in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea it is the only region of Ukraine where ethnic Russians dominate in numbers, although many ethnic Ukrainians in other eastern areas speak Russian as their first language.

The Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group, were victimised by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in World War Two and deported en masse to Soviet Central Asia in 1944 on suspicion of collaborating with Nazi Germany.Tens of thousands of them returned to their homeland after Ukraine gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

Ethnic Tatars who support Ukraine’s new leaders and pro-Russia separatists had confronted each other outside the regional parliament on Wednesday.

Www.belsat.eu/en

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