Ukraine port city Sevastopol in the Crimean peninsula voted in Aleksei Chaliy, a Russian citizen, as mayor while Kiev is busy implementing a new government.
Crimea’s residents protested against the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovich and declared their plans for secession. One protester said Sevastopol will always be a Russian town. It is very popular with wealthy Russians, and Russia holds many naval bases in Crimea.
After the city council elected Chaliy, residents outside of the building erupted in cheers; “Russia, Russia, Russia” ripped through the crowd, and they were thrilled a Russian mayor was elected.
“Putin and the Black Sea fleet should come,” said one woman, who only gave her name as Alexandra, [standing] outside city hall on Monday evening as the city council voted inside. “We are not scared of bloodshed,” she added.
The mayor of Sevastopol is usually picked in Kiev.
The previous mayor, Vladimir Yatsuba, resigned in tears.
Interim president Oleksander Turchynov warned members of parliament that separatism puts a united Ukraine at risk. He told them they must fight separatism and work with the people in Russian areas.
The protests started in November after Yanukovich rejected a European Union trade deal in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia. Crimea immediately began preparations to leave Ukraine, and the World Russian People’s Assembly called for protection of Sevastopol residents.