It is finally calm in Ukraine’s capital Kiev after three months of active protests, but the Crimean peninsula is heating up. Protesters gathered in Sevastopol in Crimea to demonstrate against the actions of parliament in Kiev and declare their plans of secession.
Demonstrators waved Russian flags – there was not a Ukrainian flag to be seen – and chanted “Russia, Russia, Russia” during the gathering.
“Sevastopol is a Russian town and will always be a Russian town… we will never surrender to those fascists in Kiev,” said Anatoly, who was handing out Russian flags and declined to give his surname. “The struggle is only just beginning.”
On Saturday, parliament passed a resolution that kicked out Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich and set elections for May 25. Even though he is an ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, people in Crimea view him as a traitor.
“I don’t support Yanukovych because he has betrayed Ukraine,” said Dmitry Kovalenko, 23, a student. “We need to unite with Russia.”
East Ukraine is closer with Russia, but very strong in Crimea. The peninsula is very popular with wealthy Russians and is home to many Russian naval bases. The people elected Aleksei Chaly as the new city leader and Dmitry Sinichkin said the 200,000 residents must be available to fight back against Kiev.
“Bloodshed is inevitable,” added Sinichkin, who was dressed in black leather. The Night Wolves enjoy the patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin and its leadership has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.
“We are not like the Kievans, we will not give up,” said Olga, a pensioner in the crowd on Sunday.
“We hoped there wouldn’t be a split in the country, but if a fully Bandera regime emerges in Kiev then we will be a part of Russia,” she added, using a controversial term for the opposition from the name of a nationalist leader who fought against both the Nazis and the Soviets during the Second World War.
The protests in Kiev started in November after Yanukovich turned down a trade deal with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia. Crimea started to make moves to leave Ukraine. On January 31, the World Russian People’s Assembly called for protection of Sevastopol residents from the radicals in Kiev.