Newly installed as the de facto leader of the country, interim president Olexandr Turchinov says that he met with other “key officials” to discuss a full ban on expressing secessionist sentiment, saying the people in Crimea calling for a split are “threats to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Turchinov was light on the details, but said the discussion included “punishing people guilty of this.” In the Russian-speaking Crimea, where a strong majority backed the ousted President Yanukovych, there is growing support for secession and a possible return to being part of Russia, as they historically were.
The Russian government initially downplayed the prospect, but parliament is considering a bill that would allow residents of the Crimea to easily obtain Russian citizenship.
Interestingly, while the pro-West officials are now presenting secessionist sentiment as a crime, pro-Western demonstrators in Lviv spent much of the past two weeks doing the exact same thing, calling for historical Halych-Volyn to secede from the Ukraine and form a new pro-Western state.
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