Pro-Ukraine supporters clashed with their pro-Russia rivals in front of Crimea’s administrative building on Wednesday. One man was found dead.
Parliament met on Wednesday, and Crimeans thought they would discuss their status. However, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Konstantinov told the crowd Parliament would not talk about secession. This was the tipping point.
In Simferopol, Crimean Tatars chanted “Glory to Ukraine!”, while the pro-Russian activists responded with “Russia!”
A body of an elderly man was found during the rallies, Crimea’s health ministry said in a statement.
It said the unidentified man had no signs of injuries, and had probably died from a heart attack.
Crimean is an autonomous republic within Ukraine, but it identifies with Russia. There are 58.5% ethnic Russians in the peninsula, which is home to many Russian navy ports. Residents gathered in its capital Sevastopol after Parliament ousted president Viktor Yanukovichon February 22nd and pledged their allegiance to Russia. On February 25th, the city council elected a Russian mayor after pushing out their Kiev-appointed mayor.
The ethnic Ukrainians and Muslim Tatars are pushing back against Russia. The Muslims’ dislike for Russia goes back to Stalin’s deportations and Putin’s wars in Chechnya. Putin managed to make it worse by picking Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is considered sacred ground to Muslims who were pushed out of their homeland 150 years ago.