Deposed Ukraine Leader Makes Defiant TV Appearance
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine - Ukraine's deposed president appeared on television for the first time Friday since fleeing the country.
Speaking from neighboring Russia, Viktor Yanukovych insisted he is still the elected leader of Ukraine and wasn't giving up his power.
Even though he's in Russia, the ousted leader said he has not spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has no plans to ask for military help in Ukraine.
Despite that statement, there are new concerns over a Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine.
Russian troops now control an airport near their naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is calling the siege a "military invasion and occupation."
"It is in violation of all international treaties and norms," he charged. "This is a direct provocation to armed bloodshed on the territory of a sovereign state."
Meanwhile, a standoff with about 50 pro-Russian gunmen occupying the Crimean parliament in Simferopol is well into its second day.
The gunmen are reportedly armed with automatic weapons, explosives, and enough ammunition to last a month.
The country's new interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has ordered the military to use whatever means necessary to retake the building.
"Anyone who tries to, and I stress anyone, to take over the government buildings in Ukraine's east, west, center, south, and north, is going to be treated as having committed a crime against the government of Ukraine," he warned.
According to witnesses, the masked gunmen stormed parliament early Thursday and hoisted a Russian flag atop the building.
Since then, hundreds chanting "Russia!" have been protesting outside parliament, demanding lawmakers take up a referendum about seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
The drama unfolding outside the Crimean parliament comes at a very tenuous time for southern Ukraine.
Protesters there disapprove of Yanukovych's impeachment and removal from office. And they're distrustful of the new leadership that has taken control of the country.
"What we have here is a group of people who wants to be connected with Russia because we no longer support or trust the Ukrainian government," Russian demonstrator Danchenko Sergey said.
The standoff has dramatically increased tensions in an already volatile region where the population's loyalty is divided.
This week, Ukrainian officials warned Russia not to intervene militarily.
"Any movements by the military beyond this territory will be considered as military aggression," Turchynov said.