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Crimea plans to hold referendum on independence
MARCH 01, 2014 08:40  
Armed men has taken control of two airports in Ukraine`s Crimea region on Friday, after another group of gunmen appearing to be on the same side have seized regional government and parliamentary buildings. The volatile situation in Crimea is escalating, as the new Ukrainian government described it as an invasion and occupation by Russian forces.

On early Friday, some 50 armed men seized civilian international airport in the regional capital of Simferopol, Russia` Interfax news agency reported. The gunmen, clad in the Russian military uniforms and armed with rifles, were wearing the same uniforms as the armed men who seized the regional government and parliamentary buildings on Thursday. They claimed to have come for a search operation after hearing news that the Ukrainian paratroopers were deployed to the region. As the Ukraine`s new government is considering sending military troops to suppress the gunmen, chances are higher that the Russian military will intervene. The Russian Defense Ministry said its ground troops conducting drills in a border area near Ukraine have entered into a "war game."

The Crimean parliament decided Thursday to hold a referendum on the autonomous region`s independence on May 25, when the Ukrainian presidential election is scheduled to take place. However, it is very unlikely that Ukraine`s new government will recognize the Crimean parliament`s decision. The Crimean parliament also appointed Russian Unity party leader Sergey Aksyonov as prime minister of Crimea.

Meanwhile, Ukraine`s transitional cabinet led by new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Thursday notified the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of the country`s official request for 15-billion-U.S.-dollar financial support, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the international body, said in a statement. "We are ready to respond," she said in the statement.

Ukraine`s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, surfaced in Russia and held a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Friday afternoon, claiming to be the legitimate president of his country.

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