CRIMEA OFFICIALLY PART OF RUSSIA
Russian President Vladimir Putin officially asked the Russian Parliament for Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to become new members of the Russian Federation and introduced a bill that he urged them to sign following his address.
Putin said it would have been a “betrayal” not to rescue Crimea and defended the result of Sunday’s referendum. “In people’s heart of hearts, Crimea has always been part of Russia,” he said, adding that under former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev Crimeans “were handed over like a sack of potatoes” to Ukraine without their approval.
Putin also stressed that Russia “needs good relations with Ukraine,” and that he wanted “peace, stability and territorial integrity in Ukraine.” He described Kiev as the “mother of all Russian cities.” He said Ukrainians were fed up with corruption and expressed sympathy with peaceful Maidan protesters. But he repeated that the bloody events during the last days of the Kiev protests were committed by Western-sponsored nationalists, neo-Nazis and anti-semites to stage a coup against elected government.
Putin dismissed what the West has described as military invasion, saying the number of Russian troops in Crimea had remained under what’s allowed by international agreements. “I don’t recall any aggression of one country against another without a single shot being fired,” he said.
He also said that Crimea would have three equal languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. “It will be the home of all ethnicities, but never one that belongs to neo-Nazis,” he stressed.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced this morning that Putin was still invited to D-day commemorations on June 6, but said that Russia’s participation in the G8 meeting in Sotchi is suspended. This comes after the EU and the U.S. imposed new sanctions against Russian individuals. These were met with sarcasm by the leader of Russia’s center-left party A Just Russia, who said of the sanctions: "It is with pride that I have found myself on the black list.”
CHINA BEGINS LAND SEARCHES FOR PLANE
China has begun land searches for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, deploying 21 satellites as it seeks to “narrow the search area and eliminate one of the two corridors” where the missing aircraft is thought to have flown, the South China Morning Post quotes the country’s ambassador to Malaysia as saying. Beijing also said it conducted thorough investigations of the 153 Chinese passengers aboard the plane and ruled out the possibility that any of them hijacked or sabotaged the aircraft. This comes as relatives of Chinese passengers threatened to go on hunger strike over the lack of information from Malaysian authorities. Read more from The Guardian.
NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN HIT BY SUICIDE BOMB
At least 15 people were killed this morning in a suicide explosion at a market in the northern Afghan city of Maimana that left another 27 injured, Sky News quotes the local police chief as saying. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, although the Taliban had pledged to disrupt the April 5 presidential election.
MIGRANTS DIE OFF GREEK COAST
Seven migrants died after their boat sank overnight off the coast of the Greek island Lesvos, AP reports local authorities as saying. Rescue teams were able to save eight other people, although two are still missing. Authorities gave no details of the nationalities of the passengers or how the boat, which originated in Turkey, sank. Meanwhile, AGI reports that 596 migrants, including 62 children, were rescued off the southern coast of Lampedusa.
BOAT COLLISION IN TOKYO BAY
At least one Chinese crew member died and eight others are missing after their Panamanian-flagged cargo ship sank following a collision with a South Korean ship in the Tokyo Bay, news agency Jiji Press reports.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION AT FIFA
Documents obtained by British newspaper The Daily Telegraphclaim that a senior FIFA official and his family received almost $2 million after Qatar was named the host country for the 2022 soccer World Cup.
BY THE NUMBERS
Archeologists say they found a 3,200-year-old skeleton of a man with cancer, the oldest example so far of a disease often associated with modern lifestyles. Read more from the British Museum.
Fashion designer L'Wren Scott, who had been dating the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger since 2001, has died of an apparent suicide, The New York Daily Newsreports.
With the world focused on Crimea and trying to figure out what Vladimir Putin will do next, we stumbled upon some old photos of the Russian leader. We couldn't help noticing a certain resemblance…