Interim Ukraine Leader Vows to Punish Pro-Secession Crimeans

Terms Them 'Threats to Ukraine's Territorial Integrity'

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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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.