UK & World News
Ukraine: 'Intimidation' Ahead Of Crimea Vote
Men dressed in police uniforms are said to have snatched and torn passports belonging to pro-Ukrainians amid allegations of voter intimidation in Crimea.
The Mayor of the Crimean capital, Simferopol, has told Sky News gangs of men have reportedly demanded documents from anyone suspected of intending to vote against Crimea becoming part of Russia in a referendum on March 16.
One man, who did not want to be named, said he was approached by policemen who demanded to see his passport.
He told Sky News: "On the way to work, I was stopped by two policemen.
"They asked see my documents. I showed them a copy of my passport and they wanted me to go to the police station. I refused. They don't want us to vote in this referendum.
"In my district, I saw groups of men, some dressed in uniforms, going from house to house checking passports. Some were torn up."
Anyone wanting to vote in the referendum will have to show their passports as proof of identification and any attempt to sway the outcome will be seen by both sides as hugely controversial.
Hundreds of people called the local administrative offices in Simferopol complaining of harassment, said Deputy Mayor Glazkov i'Lya.
"The situation is that some people approached our citizens.
"They were asked to show their documents, then they just took them and ran away. Some passports were torn. Some people said the men were wearing police uniforms.
"This is provocation. It's not a joke. They think they can stop the referendum then they're wrong. The referendum will go ahead."
The Crimean Tatar leader Refat Chubarov said he would be pushing to boycott Sunday's referendum, claiming the Kremlin will "rig the vote".
"The result has already been decided by Moscow."
The allegations come on a day of continued tensions in Crimea.
Armed men moved into a Ukrainian naval post in Backchisaray and fired shots into the air, according to a Ukrainian defence minister.
Vladislav Seleznyov said on Facebook that 10 "unidentified armed men" drove into the compound in two minibuses and demanded 10 trucks from Ukrainian personnel.
Thirty-six volunteer soldiers in the region swore an oath of allegiance in front of Crimea's pro-Russian Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, pledging to "defend the people of Crimea".
UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko was pelted with eggs and apples by Pro-Russia demonstrators at a rally in Kharkiv.
Pro-Russian forces have taken over military installations across Crimea in under a week, although Moscow has denied the uniformed units are theirs - a claim ridiculed by Ukraine and the West.
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