The newly appointed head of Ukraine’s navy has sworn allegiance to the Crimea region, in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader. Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky was only made head of the navy on Saturday, as the government in Kiev reacted to the threat of Russian invasion.
Two explosions have been heard in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, with no official details yet available.
Nato’s chief has asked Russia to withdraw its forces to its bases.
“We call on Russia to de-escalate tensions… to withdraw its forces to its bases and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, speaking in Brussels.
Ukraine was a “valued partner” for Nato and should be allowed to determine its own future, he said.
Russia’s upper house of parliament has approved President Putin’s request for Russian forces to be used in Ukraine. He had asked that Russian forces be used “until the normalisation of the political situation in the country”. (read about what the US says of this here)
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, where many ethnic Russians live.
Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov said he had put the army on full alert but urged people to remain calm. In a televised address, he asked Ukrainians to bridge divisions in the country and said they must not fall for provocations.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was standing next to Mr Turchynov, said he was “convinced” Russia would not intervene militarily “as this would be the beginning of war and the end of all relations”.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin submitted the request for troops “in connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens”, the Kremlin said.
The upper house went into a special session almost immediately after Mr Putin made the request, and swiftly approved it.
Some fear this is the start of World War III
Russian police have made nearly 500 arrests at opposition rallies in the country’s two main cities, including several well-known protest figures.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those picked up in Moscow on Monday evening, as he attended an unapproved rally near the Kremlin.
He and others have appeared in court, charged with offences that entail a fine or detention of up to 15 days.
The rallies were called to protest at sentences passed on other activists.
Seven people had received prison terms of up to four years on Monday, for rioting and attacking police at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow. Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the sentences as a “hideous injustice”, at the end of a “show trial”.
While the rallies on Monday in Moscow and St Petersburg were called to protest at the Bolotnaya sentences, some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, who brought down President Viktor Yanukovych last week.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned on Sunday that it “would be a grave mistake” if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened militarily in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Rice was among U.S. leaders saying they want to see a unity coalition government in the country after President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the capital, and a unanimous vote in Parliament removed him from power.
“The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people,” Rice said. The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych “turned on” the people by using violence against them.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said there must be focus on forming a unity government. “Yanukovych needs to step aside, and I will say this: Now that the Olympics are over, we need to watch the behavior of the Russians,” she said.
Obama “needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine,” Ayotte said, “to let the Ukrainian people determine their future, to ensure that there is no interference in their sovereignty.”
Will all this tension break into a third World War?
After weeks of fighting for a better country, the citizens of Ukraine have managed to remove president Viktor Yanukovich from power. Ukraine’s fromer Prime Minister and hero of the country’s 2004 revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prision and has returned to Kiev to claim justice for all the dead protesters.
Tymoshenko served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, and was forced out of office after losing an election to Yanukovych. She was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison after being convicted of abuse of authority over a natural gas deal negotiated with Russia in 2009.
Tymoshenko’s release was the latest in a day of dramatic, fast-paced developments that saw Parliament vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. Just hours after her release from a prison hospital, Tymoshenko called for justice for protesters killed in demonstrations sparked by the President’s decision to scrap a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.
President Yanukovich, after seeing that the elections of wether to keep him or not as a ruler were being lost, tried to flee the country but had no proper paperwork to do so, therefore was stopped by local inspectors. He denied the attempt to leave the country. Ukraine’s dismissed interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, also was refused exit from the country in a similar incident at the same airport, Astakov said.
The events of the day raise questions about just who is in control in Ukraine, with Parliament voting to oust Yanukovych and hold new elections on May 25.
The vote came just 24 hours after Yanukovych signed a peace deal with the opposition intended to end days of bloody protests.
Has Ukraine finally found peace?
Spanish police officers evicted the staff of a public TV station in Valencia after it was ordered to shutdown. The staff were protesting against the shutdown bycontinuing to broadcast.
Valencia’s government decided to shutdown the station RTVV (Radio Television
Valenciana) after it was declared necessary to cut staff by more than half.
Police broke into RTTV building and escorted the workers out.
Spain has been struggling to improve its economy.
In Greece, the ERT broadcaster was also shutdown in June but workers barricated themselves in and continued boradcasting. Police have taken them out. (read more about this here)