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Peskov: Putin is guarantor of Russian world's security
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the guarantor of security of the Russian world, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said live on the Rossiya 1 TV channel on Thursday.
"Russia may not remain indifferent. And it will not remain indifferent (in Crimea)", Peskov said.
He added that Russia was "the country on which the Russian world rests upon."
Peskov also said Putin's rating was growing amid the crisis in Ukraine, and added that it was "unique."
Ukraine has been in political turmoil since its legitimate leader Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in an armed uprising in February. Crimea's parliament decided on Friday that the Autonomous Ukrainian Republic should secede from Ukraine and join Russia. It also decided to hold a referendum on the issue on March 16.
Peskov also said on Rossiya 1 state television that the Crimean Supreme Council's decision to join Russia had not been initiated by the Kremlin.
"It was an initiative of Crimeans, and this initiative will either be confirmed or not confirmed in a week" during the referendum, he said.
When asked whether there are Russian troops in Ukraine, the Russian presidential spokesman said Crimea has Russian troops because it hosts a naval base where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is deployed. He added that the guard of all Russian military facilities in Crimea had been reinforced.
Russia leases from Ukraine a naval base in Crimea's port city of Sevastopol.
Following President Yanukovich's departure from his official residence outside Kiev in February 2014, the Ukrainian parliament reinstated the 2004 Ukrainian Constitution that cut presidential powers. It also canceled the law on the fundamentals of the state language policy, which had given Russian the status of a regional language in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions, including Crimea.
Clashes were then reported in Crimea between pro-Russian and anti-Russian protesters. A number of media have claimed Russian armed forces blocked some military facilities in Crimea. But top Russian officials, including President Putin, have denied any unlawful activities by Russian armed forces in Crimea.
Russians account for over 50 percent of Crimea's population. In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when First Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party's Central Committee, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction.
[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 07Mar14]
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