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SIMFEROPOL, March 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov said on March 11 in reply to a question from journalists that there are no Russian servicemen in the republic’s local self-defense units.
“These are Crimeans, have no doubts,” the Kryminform news agency quoted Aksyonov as saying. “The self-defense units contain no Russian servicemen.”
“As of today, the Russian army does not participate in actions to block [military] units, to ensure public order,” he said, adding that Crimean self-defense units were involved in cooperation with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet based in Ukraine in line with a naval base lease deal.
Earlier, a number of media claimed that Russian soldiers were reportedly seen blocking some military facilities in Crimea. But top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have denied any unlawful activities by Russian armed forces in Crimea.
Crimea’s Supreme Council on March 6 decided that the autonomous Ukrainian republic would secede from Ukraine and join Russia as its constituent member. The issue was put to a referendum that would take place on March 16. Crimea’s parliament adopted on Tuesday a declaration of independence.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich left Ukraine in February after a coup in his country. At Tuesday’s press conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, he said he remained the legitimate Ukrainian president despite “an anti-constitutional seizure of power by armed radicals.