Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — Dozens of armed men seized the regional government administration building and parliament in Ukraine’s southern Crimea region Thursday and raised the Russian flag, in a challenge to the Eastern European country’s new leaders.
Crimea, with its ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership in Kiev after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster Saturday.
The incident, coming a day after Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine’s doorstep, has raised fears about the push and pull of opposing allegiances in a country sandwiched between Russia and the European Union.
A broad divide has emerged between those who support what is going on in Kiev — where parliament was voting on an interim West-leaning government Thursday — and those who back Russia’s continued influence in Crimea and across Ukraine.
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