Ukraine Fears Separatism as Pro-Russia Protests Erupt in Crimea

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ukraine's acting president Olexander Turchinov warned that the country faced a "serious threat" from separatism, especially from its southern, Russian-speaking regions. Turchinov also announced that the formation of a permanent government would be delayed until at least Thursday.

The ousting of former President Viktor Yanukovich—and the subsequent warrant for his arrest—was met with widespread protest in parts of Ukraine's Crimea region, which is predominantly pro-Russia.

Monday night, the city council in the Crimean city of Sevastopol elected Aleksei Chaliy, a Russian citizen, as mayor as more than a thousand supporters gathered around city call, chanting "Russia, Russia, Russia" and "A Russian mayor for a Russian City." And earlier Monday, Sevastopol police chief Alexander Goncharov said his forces would refuse any "criminal orders" from Kiev.

A Sevastopol-based advisor to the government in Kiev described the move as a coup "represent[ing] the interests of the Kremlin."

Russian officials, however, have denied having any plans to explicitly intervene in Ukraine. Russia will continue its "policy of non-intervention," according to Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, who spoke to Reuters. "It is dangerous and counterproductive to try to force on Ukraine a choice according to the principle of either being with us or against us," he added.

[Image via AP]