(VIDEO + PHOTO) Pro- anti-Russian protesters clash in Crimea

The protests have also taken lives.

Bottles, stones and flags flew in the air as thousands of pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region.

Tension between the rival groups rallying next to one another intensified after hours of demonstrating, with people wielding Russian, Ukrainian, Crimean and Crimean Tatar flags getting involved in clashes. Demonstrators slammed each other with flags and threw stones as leaders on both sides urged their followers to avoid provocations.

On Wednesday evening, local MP Mustafa Dzhemilev said that during the clashes two people died - a man of a heart attack and a woman who was trampled by the crowd.

At least 30 people have been injured in the clashes, 6 of whom were hospitalized, Crimean Health Ministry reported. Three of them remain in severe state while the other three suffered moderate injuries. Most people were admitted with head and abdominal injuries.

The Tatars of the Crimea peninsula, united by their national party Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, together with local supporters of the new Ukrainian authorities, have declared that they will not allow the autonomous region to break away.

In addition, the protesters demanded a referendum be held to decide whether Crimea should retain its current status as an autonomous region in Ukraine, to become independent, or become part of Russia again (Crimea was part of Russia until 1954).




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