A number of high ranking Ukrainian military and security officials in Crimea have sworn their allegiance to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as Simferopol pushes for its autonomy from the self-imposed government in Kiev.
The head of the Security Service of Crimea Petyor Zima, Chief of Department of Internal Affairs in the Crimea Sergey Abisov, the head of Service for Emergency Situations Sergei Shakhov and acting Chief of the Border Guards of Crimea Victor Melnichenko all took an oath of allegiance to the people of Crimea.
Earlier rear admiral Denis Berezovsky swore allegiance to the people of Crimea taking control over Crimea's newly formed Navy.
The ceremony took place in the Council of Ministers chamber in the presence of regional government officials, mayors of different cities and regions.
Those who took the oath promised “to respect and strictly observe the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” and to “promote the preservation of interethnic accord and civil peace” on the peninsula.
"I believe that this day will go down in history of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the day that all law enforcement agencies were established in the autonomy,” The region's Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov announced. “We will prove that the Crimeans are capable of protecting themselves and ensure the safety and freedom of our citizens.”
Aksyonov also added that other authority figures are willing to swear allegiance to the people of the Crimea in the near future. “Up to now, 90 per cent of all law enforcement agencies in the territory of the autonomy are subordinated to the Supreme Council of Crimea. And this work will be completed by us tonight,” Aksyonov told the regional parliament.
Aksyonov also said that a new Defense Ministry will soon be created for the autonomous Crimea
“In the near future, as part of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, a new ministry – the Ministry of Defence will be created. I am sure that such a ministry will be vital for us, based on the principle of ‘If you want peace - prepare for war.’”
The Prime Minister of Crimea also noted that self-defense squads are guarding the Crimean prosecutor's office, where a new acting prosecutor will be presented for the regional parliament for approval on Monday. The issue with the Court of Appeal will also be discussed on Monday.
“Today the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is formed as an independent, integral public authority,” said Aksyonov. "I am sure that all of us will prove that we did not just come into power and that we can give Crimeans what they expect from us”
The prime minister admitted that a number of outstanding issues must be dealt with in the Crimea and the development of a common strategy is to take place at the next Council of Ministers of Crimea meeting scheduled for March 4.
In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta Aksyonov promised to create a stable state in Crimea by May.
“We will never see ‘Maidan’ with their black smoke and burned tires here,” the Crimean leader said. "I responsibly promise that Crimea by May will be calm, quiet, friendly. People of all nationalities will live here happily.”
Crimeans began protesting after the new self-imposed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages for official documents in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.
Feeling a threat from the new central government of questionable legitimacy, a number of regions stood up against it. Thousands of people across eastern and southern Ukraine are flooding the streets of major cities, urging local authorities to disobey Kiev’s orders. The local population is calling the government in Kiev illegitimate and demanding that their local governments refuse to take orders from it.