Rival Demonstrations End with Violence in Ukraine’s Crimea Region
Parallel rallies of supporters and opposition to the new Ukrainian leadership have led to scuffles in the autonomous Crimea region.
At least one person is reported to have been injured according to information by the BBC. Russian website Lenta.ru, however, raises the number to twenty, citing Ukrainian media.
Both the pro-Yanukovych demonstration, set up by Crimea's Russian speaking majority, and the protest of Crimean Tatars, approving the change of power, took place outside the parliament in the regional administrative capital Simferopol.
The events, separated by a police cordon, were called by the two rival groups in Kiev ahead of a planned session of Crimean parliament regarding the issue of the region's status.
Volodymyr Konstantinov, speaker of the regional parliament, declared the matter would not be discussed and a secession of largely pro-Russian Crimea is currently out of question.
After the clashes in Kiev last week, there has been tension between Tatars and ethnic Russians in Crimea, a region which is traditionally supportive of the pro-Russian elite that has ruled since 2010. Crimean Tatars mostly sided with pro-Western ethnic Ukrainians and expressed themselves strongly in favour of the power shift.
Ousted head of state Viktor Yanukovych is considered to have been on the Crimean peninsula over the past few days, but some witnesses have claimed he has left the Crimean city of Balaklava in a three-car convoy, dismissing most of his security personnel.
Crimea is also home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, located in the port city of Sevastopol. In April 2010, its lease was extended until 2042 after parliament approved a proposal by Yanukovych.
At the same time, in Ukraine's capital Kiev, a new government is expected to be presented to later on Wednesday.
Earlier during that day, the notorious Berkut special force was disbanded, and interim President Oleksandr Turchynov announced he had assumed the duties of the head of the military.
Damn they are so stupid, damn Tatars...It is precisely because of the language law that minorities got more rights, not just the Russian language, but Polish, Hungarian n others as well. But just you wait, tatars, the militia is on its way, several thousand strong, soon you be quiet if you know what's good for you...