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Ukraine Tensions Flare as Pro-Russians, Crimea Tatars Clash

February 27 2014, 09:28

Tensions flared in the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea as demonstrators pushing for a referendum on joining Russia clashed with members of the Tatar ethnic minority, reports. 

Several thousand flag-waving protesters from both sides faced off today outside of the local parliament building in Simferopol, the regional capital. Lawmakers canceled an emergency session that had been called to discuss whether to support the plebiscite, which assembly spokeswoman Lyudmila Mokhova said would have been symbolic, rather than binding.

Divisions between the Ukrainian-speaking west and center and the pro-Russia east and south are straining the country’s unity after the nation’s bloodiest week since World War II toppled Viktor Yanukovych’s Kremlin-backed regime. While the European Union has urged leaders to preserve Ukraine’s integrity, Crimea, part of Russia until 1954 and home to its Black Sea fleet, has become the focus of ethnic tension.

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