Pro-Russian protesters have seized the Crimean regional parliament, group forcing legislators to announce a referendum on Crimeanindependence for March 25.
Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has urged caution as political divisions grow amid calls for regional independence. Tension increased overnight when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin placed 150,000 Russian troops on high alert in response to the ousting of his ally, Ukraine’s deposed President Yanukovych.
Pro-Russian protesters angered by the fall of Yanukovych faced off against supporters of Ukraine’s interim government outside the Crimean parliament in Simferopol. About 20,000 people also protested in the port city of Sevastopol supporting secession to Russia. Sevastopol houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet and more then 60 per cent of the Crimean population are of Russian descent.
While Mr Yanukovych remains adamant that the decision to oust him was illegal, the United States has already expressed support for the new government as the interim regime attempts to restore plans for alliances with the European Union and acceptance of a western aid package.
The Associated Press has also reported that key positions in the government have been given to prominent protest figures. Among the appointments are Dmytro Bulatov, an activist who had been abducted and tortured during the protests, as youth minister. – Compiled from wire and internet sources by Andrew Leeson
Top photo taken from Sasha Masymenko’s Flickr photostream.