Crimea's 96.77%, Malaysia Plane Update, Happy Holi!
THE CRIMEAN MANDATE
Crimeans voted overwhelmingly yesterday to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. With a turnout of 83%, the measure won support from 96.77% of voters.
After the final results were publicized, the Crimean parliament voted as planned to transform the region into an independent state, paving the way for it to enter Russia, Itar-Tass reports. It also nationalized all Ukrainian state assets and made the Russian ruble its official currency. Finally, it announced that the region will shift to Moscow time (which is two hours ahead of Kiev time) at the end of the month. “We're going home. Crimea is going to Russia,” Ria Novosti quoted Crimean Prime Minister Serhiy Aksyonov as saying. According to AFP, Interim Ukrainian President Olexandr Turchynov slammed the vote as “a great farce.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to address the Russian Parliament tomorrow, with the Duma expected to move quickly to admit Crimea. As part of Moscow’s attempt at a diplomatic resolution, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Ukraine to become a federal state and allow its regions greater autonomy, AP reports.
Meanwhile, Kiev responded to what it sees as a “war-time situation” by endorsing the partial mobilization of 40,000 reservists, the BBC reports. The Kyiv Post reports that the Parliament approved emergency funds of $600 million for military spending. “We need to put all operating units on alert,” said Andriy Parubiy, founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine (branded as fascist) and Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.
The outcome of the referendum, though anticipated, prompted a new meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels to decide on more Russian sanctions. “We have to think very carefully about what we do,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. British Foreign Minister William Hague, meanwhile, told the BBC he was confident he and Ashton would agree on “some sanctions today, some travel bans, some asset freezes.” According to Itar-Tass, the price of gas was on the rise this morning with investors fearing that sanctions will have a negative impact.
MALAYSIA PLANE’S COMMUNICATION SYSTEM DISABLED MANUALLY
The co-pilot of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 issued his last message to air traffic control after part of the aircraft’s communication system was manually shut down, The Guardian reports. UK broadcaster Channel 4 explains that this fact, coupled with his relaxed demeanor, suggests that at least one of the pilots “had full knowledge of the scheme to render the plane invisible and fly it off-course.” Investigators are also considering the possibility that the plane was flown at a low height to avoid being detected by radar. According to the BBC, the aircraft is now thought to have flown on either a northern arc (from Thailand to Uzbekistan) or a southern arc over the Indian Ocean.
Hindus celebrated Holi, the popular spring festival of colors, in eastern Pakistan yesterday. See more photos on BBC News.
HUNDREDS DEAD IN NIGERIA
Some 200 people are feared dead in central Nigerian villages after a group of gunmen attacked residents, including women and children, and set their homes on fire, local website Naij reports. According to The Washington Post, the violence might have been caused “as much by scarcity of resources as sectarian tension” between Muslim cattle herders and Christian farmers. The news comes after the death of at least 16 people in stampedes on Saturday, in five different locations, when half a million people turned up to apply for 5,000 government jobs. Read more from AP.
U.S. NAVY SEALS TAKE CONTROL OF ROGUE LIBYAN TANKER
U.S. Navy Seals have taken control of a tanker loaded with oil from rebel-held areas of Libya, preventing “a breakaway Libyan militia to sell its contents on the black market,” The New York Timesquotes the Pentagon as saying. The assault, which took place in international waters south of Cyprus, happened after Libya and Cyprus requested U.S. help.
SYRIAN ARMY RETAKES BORDER TOWN
The Syrian army has retaken the town of Yabroud, the last rebel stronghold near the border with Lebanon, state news agency Sana reports. Over 100,000 people have died in the conflict, which entered its fourth year this weekend. Read more from the BBC.
EARTHQUAKE HITS CHILEAN COAST
A magnitude 6.7 quake hit the northern Chilean coast last night, with the epicenter located 60 kilometers northwest of port city Iquique. According to CNN, no injuries or damage were reported, but the authorities ordered some 100,000 to evacuate their homes as a precaution. The tremor comes one week after similar events off the coast of Mexico and California.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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