Ukrainian Extremists, Tourists Pretend to be Refugees to Enter Crimea

SIMFEROPOL, June 9 (RIA Novosti) — Ukrainian extremists and regular tourists are travelling to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, pretending to be mainland refugees, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said Monday.

“Extremists and regular tourists are coming to Crimea today pretending to be refugees. Five cases have been registered. People come for vacation from different regions of Ukraine to spend the summer holiday season on the beach,” Aksyonov said.

The leader underlined that the authorities would offer any help possible to those who are really in need as they flee from Ukraine’s southeast, running from political repression and military action.

Crimea’s authorities earlier said they are ready to accommodate refugees from mainland Ukraine and have prepared former Ukrainian resorts, which have now been nationalized, for refugees.

The Russian Red Cross has also promised 62 million rubles ($1.8 million) to Crimea, the majority of which is planned to go to refugee camp maintenance.

Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-imposed government in Kiev that came to power following the February overthrow of President Yanukovych and voted to secede. The peninsula left Ukraine to join Russia in March, after 96 percent of voters backed the decision in a referendum.

At the end of May, Crimea housed over 100 Ukrainian refugees, and its authorities said over 1,000 refugees arrived from Odessa following the May 2 tragedy at the Trade Unions Building, but many of them returned home when the situation normalized in the region.

Ukraine’s interim authorities have launched a special operation to crack down on independence supporters in southeastern regions, which have been protesting against the legitimacy of the new authorities since March.

The operation led to violent clashes and dozens of casualties in Slaviansk, Kramatorsk and Mariupol. Some 48 people were killed and over 200 injured in Odessa, with local lawmakers saying a total of 116 could have died in the tragedy.

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