UK & World News

  • 7 April 2014, 17:19

'Russian Soldier Kills Ukrainian Officer'

A Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea has been killed by a Russian soldier, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.

The victim is reported to have been unarmed and the Russian is said to be under arrest and being detained in Sevastopol.

It comes as tensions continue to rise between the two countries following a weekend of unrest involving pro-Russian protesters in several eastern cities.

Russia annexed Crimea three weeks ago after a referendum in the peninsula in which the vast majority of residents voted to leave Ukraine.

Since then, members of the Ukrainian armed forces have been ejected from their bases in Crimea by soldiers who are thought to be backed by Russia.

The dead officer was apparently killed late on Wednesday in the Crimean town of Novofyodorovka, about 30 miles west of Simferopol. It is not clear why the death has just been announced.

He had been preparing to leave the dormitory where he lived to go to another part of Ukraine when an argument broke out with Russian servicemen.

The officer, Stanislav Karachevsky, was married and had two children, the Ukrainian defence ministry said.

His death is the second to occur in a largely violence-free hand over of power from Ukraine to Russia in the peninsula, despite the high tensions.

Another Ukrainian soldier was also beaten by Russian servicemen and detained.

A defence ministry statement said the attackers had been wearing Russian military uniforms and were holding the base commander in a nearby building.

On Sunday, demonstrators in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk demanded a referendum similar to that held in Crimea.

Eastern Ukraine is largely Russian speaking and pro-Russia supporters say that many in that half of the country are closer to the Moscow than to Kiev.

The calls for a referendum followed a series of seizures of government buildings by pro-Russia protesters in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkin.

Some of those who seized one of the buildings in Donetsk went further on Monday, declaring an independent 'republic of Donetsk' and saying they would ask Russia to provide peacekeeping troops to stop aggression from Kiev.

Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of being behind the seizures. 

By Monday morning, buildings in Kharkiv were reported to have been 'cleared' of protesters, but Ukraine's authorities said protesters in Donetsk had captured weapons, prompting them to seal off the city.

Mr Yatsenyuk claimed that Moscow was trying to 'dismember' his country.

The Prime Minister said: "There is a plan to destabilise the situation, a plan for foreign forces to cross the border and seize the territory of the country, which we will not allow.

"This scenario is written by the Russian Federation and its only purpose is to dismember Ukraine."

He said Russian troops were within 30kms (19 miles) of the Ukrainian border.

Moscow wants Ukraine to be transformed into a federation that allows eastern regions to adopt Russian as a second state language and be able to overrule decisions made it Kiev.

Meanwhile, American pop stars Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake can go ahead with shows in Finland despite US sanctions against the Helsinki venue's Russian owners, the concerts' promoter said on Monday.

The concerts were at risk last week as the Hartwall Arena venue is owned by Gennady Timchenko and Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, all of whom feature on a list of visa bans and asset freezes imposed by the US.