Ukrainian and Russian views on Crimea

Pro-Ukrainian activists sing the state anthem during a rally against Russian aggression in Crimea Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pro-Ukrainian activists sing the state anthem during a rally against Russian aggression in Crimea

Ukraine's interim prime minister has warned the Crimean parliament "no-one in the civilised world" will recognise its referendum on joining Russia.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others in the Kiev government have called the vote "unconstitutional" and "illegitimate".

But the referendum has the support of the Russian parliament. BBC News readers express their views on the latest developments.

Stephen Yarnovich, Yalta, Crimea

I have lived in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea for over nine years with my Crimean Russian wife. I have got to know the people here well. The people I have spoken to do not want, or recognise the government in Kiev, they wish only to govern themselves.

There is no real tension here with our Tartar friends - they just want to carry on with their daily lives like everyone else. There are no army units here in Yalta, and the port is operating as normal.

There is a makeshift office by the statue of Lenin where people have been signing a petition for a week now. They're asking: "Do you want to be part of Ukraine, or separate?" Pretty much every person who signed it wants to be separate from Ukraine.

I have also spoken to many people on the streets and they all say the same - Crimea is Crimea, not Ukraine! We are Crimean people and proud to be so.

We do not recognise the current government as it seized power by a coup. There were no elections and they were not voted in as a legitimate government. It was the opposition who instigated the riots, leading to the deaths of so many people.

Dr Valentina Mordvintseva, Simferopol, Crimea

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A Ukrainian soldier looks on pro-Russian gunmen at a military base outside Simferopol in Crimea

It is more or less calm on the streets. There are some soldier-looking people, but near important places only.

Every day there are meetings in two places to talk about Russia and Putin and against Nazism (poor people do not understand, why they use this word). I do not know who these people are and there are not a lot of them gathering.

Among my friends there is nobody, who supports the idea of Russian aggression. But they prefer to stay at home, as do I.

There are many people, who were not happy with the Ukrainian government and the situation which we see now is partly the result of an absence of real cultural politics in the previous government.

I realise this cannot change overnight but I don't know if this is the best way to go about it.

Ielyzaveta Boreiko, Mariupol, Donetsk

The problem of Russian invasion is now starting to touch the eastern regions of Ukraine. I did not support Yanukovych. I do not support Putin and I do not support the government Ukraine has today.

I have not taken part in any mass protests or meetings so far. I am a Russian speaking Ukrainian and we are not hurt either in the East of Ukraine or in Crimea, as suggested by the Russian government.

Our local newspapers and TV channels are in Russian, in schools there are both Russian and Ukrainian classes and language has never been a problem. I can speak both languages.

Mass media shows a lot of people waving Russian flags and supporting Putin. Many of them came here from Russia. Buses with Russian plates were noticed near the gatherings of people who support Putin. I am a linguist and I can hear these people are Russian from their accent.

In Mariupol people speak Russian, but the pronunciation is quite different from the native Russian pronunciation. There are people here who support Putin and the idea of separatism but there are extremely few of them.

I am sure that the majority of population of the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea want to live in one indivisible Ukraine. Putin insists that a coup took place in Ukraine but it was a revolution of human dignity.

Anna Lidia, St Petersburg, Russia

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Putin said Russia could not ignore calls for help but would act in compliance with international law

My mum lives in Ukraine. We all want calm. Ukrainians and Russians are all the same and love each other as a nation.

I think the US should not get involved in this situation. Russia and Ukraine are like two fighting lovers and America is like a third unnecessary one!

We love Putin he doesn't want anything bad to happen. It is hard to be a president and make everyone happy! But we are really strong and have brave hearts and big souls.

People should not be afraid of Russians, we are not bad. I have a British boyfriend who lives here with me and he feels the same. Everything is being dramatised and exaggerated.

Most Russians and Ukrainians feel the same that everything here is OK and we need to be left alone to sort it and then everything will be fine.

Oleg Tsyganov, Kiev, Ukraine

The Crimea should stay as part of the Ukraine. For a long time, before the recent events Yanukovych has always succeeded in pitting the eastern and western populations of Ukraine against each other. This was often to distract people from making policy in the country.

He promised to support Ukraine's accession to the European trade association, which would allow more trade and make the Ukraine become "closer to Europe". At the same time Yanukovych was trying to get regular cash from the International Monetary Fund.

If these requirements are met the country receives money but have we seen it? I'm sure money received for such economic assistance has gone on Yanukovych's personal purposes or the construction of his own palace.

As for Russia, I think Putin's goal is to stifle the emergence of a free neighbour so it can't affect his totalitarian rule. Besides the aim of Putin may be oil and gas, which is rich in Crimea and the Black Sea coastal areas.

Chechnya has become such an appendage for Russian oil and gas. Invaders in the Crimea are becoming more aggressive with shootings and mining of Ukrainian fields, roadblocks, and checks for trains and cars.

There has been robberies, kidnaps and arrests of people in conjunction with the self-defence of Crimea. We Ukrainians are very hopeful that no more blood is shed, as enough was shed in Independence Square.

Interviews by Lorna Hankin

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