Demonstrators loyal to Ukraine were attacked with whips, baseball bats and clubs in Sevastopol yesterday as the mood in Crimea turned increasingly tense after the stealth invasion by Russia.
The assault by about 100 Cossacks and pro-Russian militiamen was described as ‘very savage’ by BBC reporter Ben Brown – who had to sprint to his hotel to escape the thugs.
The violence came after 200 people took part in a rally in Sevastopol to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko.
In Kiev, meanwhile, Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a crowd gathered at the statue to nationalist writer Shevchenko: ‘This is our land… Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land. And we won’t budge a single centimeter from Ukrainian land. Let Russia and its president know this.’
‘We’re one country, one family and we’re here together with our kobzar (bard) Taras,’ said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.