The Los Angeles Times reports: As Ukrainian officials prepared to campaign in the United States this week for more international support ahead of a Russian-backed referendum on secession in Crimea, Moscow complained Monday of “lawlessness” in eastern Ukraine, raising fear it might widen its military intervention to include that region.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Ukrainian right-wing extremists, taking advantage of the “complete neglect” of the new Western-oriented government in Kiev, were threatening order in eastern Ukraine. In addition, the statement said, Russian citizens trying to cross the border into Ukraine were being turned back by Ukrainian border agents.
The allegations added to the increasingly heated rhetoric flying between Kiev and Moscow, and sparked concern that the Kremlin was setting up a pretext for a new military incursion. President Vladimir Putin has justified aggressive moves by pro-Russian forces in Crimea, in southern Ukraine, on the grounds of needing to protect ethnic Russians on the strategically valuable peninsula, though no independent group has identified any instances of danger or abuse. [Continue reading…]
Reuters adds: Unidentified gunmen have seized two Ukrainian journalists in Crimea, Reporters Without Borders said on Monday, warning that those behind attacks on the media were trying to turn the region into a “black hole for news”.
“The forces controlling the Crimea are responsible for the fate of these journalists,” Christophe Deloire, secretary general for the press freedom watchdog, said in a statement.