It had to be expected that the new power in Ukraine would be faced with an early test of its relations with Moscow, and it has come in Crimea.
The storming of parliament by a small group of unidentified gunmen has removed the Kyiv-loyal administration, and it is clear where their sympathies lie, with the Ukrainian flag over the building replaced by a Russian one.
Crimea is the only region in the country with a Russian majority.
“In Kiev there are tremendous events taking place. 2000 armed bastards seized power and toppled the legitimate president and legitimate authorities. I am not saying that previous power was good. But its just that old thieves were replaced with new thieves,” said one pro-Russian man.
Small groups of pro-Russian demonstrators continue to gather near the Simferopol parliament, and Kyiv has warned Russian military units that leaving their naval base in Sebastopol will be taken as an act of agression.
Many members of Crimea’s 12 to 15% Muslim Tatar minority, for the most part pro-Kyiv, are worried.
“The Crimean Tatar Council will not call our people to fight, but the situation could be used by radical extremists, including Crimean people and that’s what I am afraid of. When the first blood is shed and the first person killed, it will be hard to stop it,” said a Council member.
“The situation in Crimea is increasingly dangerous. And the seizure of parliament, from a political prospective, looks like a kind of reaction to what is going on in Kyiv, and adds to the political confusion around the country,” says euronews’ Sergio Cantone, in Crimea. He reported during the evening that from his position in front of the Crimean parliament, pro-Russian demonstrators greeted the announcement of a referendum by shouting: “Berkut, Berkut” and “Russia, Russia”.