SIMFEROPOL, February 27 (RAPSI) – The police have cautioned people in Simferopol, where the self-defense forces of the Russian-speaking population are holding the government and parliament buildings of the Crimea, against visiting the city center, Olga Kondrashova, head of the Interior Ministry’s Crimean department, told RIA Novosti.
The police have blocked off the area where the official offices of the Crimea are located, but there are many people in the city center, where the majority of stores and cafes are open.
Almost 60% of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians.
Protesters in the southern peninsula have staged rallies against Ukraine’s new leaders. A Russian-speaking mayor has been appointed in Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.
Last weekend Ukraine’s Supreme Rada (parliament) ousted and impeached President Viktor Yanukovich, appointed Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov acting president, and set presidential elections for May 25. Several new ministers have been appointed this week.
Yanukovich previously said he remains the legally elected president and that there is evidence of a state coup. Russia has questioned the legitimacy of the Ukrainian parliament’s decisions.
On February 22, a conference in Kharkiv attended by deputies of southern and eastern Ukraine adopted a resolution according to which these regions’ authorities assumed responsibility for maintaining constitutional order. The resolution also questions the legitimacy of the parliament’s decisions made after Yanukovich signed an agreement to settle the crisis with the opposition leaders from the UDAR, Batkivshchina and Svoboda (Freedom) parties.