The coup-imposed government in Kiev is seeking foreign aid from the US, the EU and the IMF to address its budget shortage. The east remains defiant of the new authorities, while Russia reserves the right to deploy troops in order to prevent bloodshed.
Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has addressed a crowd on Maidan, accusing Russia of involvement in the bloody February clashes, in which more than 100 people were killed.
Khodorkovsky claimed that force was used against the protesters “with the agreement of the Russian authorities.”
The former tycoon – who spent 10 years in jail for tax evasion, embezzlement, and money laundering and left for Europe upon release in December – also dismissed allegations that neo-Nazi groups have been taking an active part in protests, calling the accusations “Russian propaganda.”
“There are no fascists or Nazis here,” Khodorkovsky claimed.
Accusations of Russian special forces being “complicit” in the Kiev violence have also been taken on by new coup-imposed Kiev authorities after a leaked phone call between Estonia’s foreign minister and the EU's foreign policy chief revealed suspicions that the snipers responsible for the February carnage could have been hired by someone from the new Ukrainian “coalition.”
Kiev-picked Ukrainian Health Minister Oleh Musiy on Saturday confirmed that bullet wounds suffered by both the opposition and police were similar, according to AP. The official, however, blamed the shootings on Russian “special forces” who “served” the Yanukovich regime.
Crimea wants to keep its status of autonomous parliamentary republic if it joins the Russian Federation following the March-16 referendum, the speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, has announced.
More than 3,500 people travelling from Russia into Ukraine have been refused entry since March 3, according to first deputy head of the Ukrainian Border Guard, Pavel Shisholin.
“As of today, more than 3.5 thousand people, including 16 journalists, were not allowed to enter, as they were unwanted on the territory of Ukraine,” Shisholin said at a session of the coup-imposed Kiev government on Sunday.
The border police are also ramping up their presence on the border with Autonomous Republic of Crimea, according to an order issued by Kiev and published on the website of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have discussed the situation in Ukraine and the looming Crimean referendum over the phone on Sunday, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin press-service.
Putin said that the actions of the Crimean authorities are aimed at protecting the legitimate interests of the population of the region. The steps undertaken by the Crimean parliament are in full accordance with international law, he stressed.
Despite the difference of opinions, the sides have agreed that the de-escalation of tension in Ukraine is in everyone’s interest, the statement noted.
Thousands anti-Maidan demonstrators rallying in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk have blocked and occupied the regional administration building, hoisting a Russian flag on its top. The protesters are demanding Mikhail Bolotskikh, the region’s head, picked by coup-imposed Kiev government, to step down.
According to Itar-Tass, some 3,000 people are taking part in the Lugansk protests and about 1,000 have broken inside the building.
Луганск, сторонники России штурмуют администрацию pic.twitter.com/xAhBXf6h8q
— Alexey (@Alekzzzzz) March 9, 2014
Before the takeover, pro-Russian demonstrators reportedly clashed with Euromaidan activists demonstrating near a monument to Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko, whose 200th birthday is celebrated this Sunday.
Several hundred people organised a flash mob at the central square of Sevastopol on Sunday, forming a living Russian flag. People held coloured paper in a syncronised order in order to create the impression of the Russian flag from above.
One “does not talk in the language of sanctions in the modern world,” special representative of the Russian President at Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Kirill Barsky, said in a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
“In today’s world, which is connected through and through by the binding fabric of globalization, the very idea of international isolation of a large state, let alone that of a world power, should a priori be perceived by any reasonable man as an obvious oddity,” Barsky said.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have discussed the situation in Ukraine over the phone and ways of solving the current crisis there, according to a statement, issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Ukrainian Railways (UZ) have stopped selling tickets to trains going to Crimea, according to an official statement on the company’s website. UZ have given an assurance that those who had already bought tickets will be able to reach their destination. However, it was not immediately clear if and when the railway routes would be resumed and in service again.
As of Sunday, Russian Railways (RZD) are still selling tickets to Crimea.
Crimean Vice-Premier Rustam Temirgaliev told Interfax that the authorities are expecting that some additional railway traffic to and from Russia will be ferried over the Kerch Strait. A bridge connecting Kerch and Russia’s Krasnodar Region is also being built “at a rapid pace,” he said.