Unidentified armed men entered the Crimean parliament in the regional capital Simferopol by force on Thursday morning, and hoisted a Russian flag on the roof.
They were cheered by a handful of pro-Russian demonstrators who gathered round the building, despite a police cordon.
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At the scene
A handful of pro-Russia demonstrators have pushed through the police cordon and are now outside the Crimean parliament.
They're cheering the occupation of the building by unidentified armed men, who entered this morning by force, hoisting a Russian flag from the roof. The protest leader proclaimed: "We've been waiting for this moment for 20 years. We want a united Russia."
This is the first big challenge for the new Ukrainian government. It has a delicate balancing act to perform in a region that straddles ethnic, political and linguistic divisions. Against the pro-Russian majority is a sizeable ethnic Ukrainian and Tatar minority who would firmly resist any attempt at secession.
But the demonstrators outside the parliament, waving Russian flags, say illegitimate protesters seized power in Kiev and that they fully intend to do the same here in Crimea."We've been waiting for this moment for 20 years," the protest leader said. "We want a united Russia."
The men are believed to be still in the building, although it is not clear if they have made any demands or statements.
They did put up a sign reading "Crimea is Russia" and threw a flash grenade in response to questions from a journalist, AP news agency reported.
Western leaders were quick to urge Moscow and Crimean activists not to escalate tensions further.
Few Americans today realize how fully Fascist and crypto-Fascist-ruled Europe was at the outbreak of WWII; the fight was between various flavors and factions of Fascism, not (at all) over whether "democracy" or "totalitarianism" would win.
Totalitarianism had already won.
And so it looks to be the case, perhaps, again...
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- Hello and welcome to the BBC's coverage of the political turmoil in Ukraine, as tensions rise over Russia's response to the crisis.
- tweets: On the floor of the Ukrainian parliament today, 73 portraits of people killed in #Kiev last week
- Ukraine's interim President, Olexander Turchynov, has warned Russia against any "military aggression" in Crimea. His warning comes after armed men seize two government buildings in the region. Crimea is located on a peninsula stretching out from the south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. You can find out more by watching our brief history of Crimea here.
- The Ukrainian foreign ministry has summoned Russia's charge d'affaires, Andrey Vorobyev, and handed him "notes concerning the latest events in Ukraine as well as movement of the Russian Black Sea Fleet units outside their bases" - Interfax-Ukraine. Mr Vorobyev is Russia's top representative in Ukraine after ambassador Mikhail Zurabov was recalled earlier.
- An unnamed Nato chief says actions by an armed group in Crimea are "dangerous and irresponsible", Reuters is reporting.
- Russian media is quoting official sources as saying Moscow has granted Viktor Yanukovych's request to ensure his personal safety.
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