March 22, 2014 20:40
Ukrainian border service shuts exit from Crimea - Crimea officials (Part 3)
SIMFEROPOL. March 22 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian Border Service has unilaterally closed the exit from Ukraine into Crimea and entry from Crimea into Ukraine, the office of the Kremlin's permanent envoy in the Crimean Federal District reported.
The border was shut at 4 p.m. local time (6 p.m. Moscow time), it said.
People, including the Ukrainian military who served in Crimea and opted to return to Ukraine, cannot cross into Ukraine for this reason, the office said.
The goal of this provocation is clear, the a spokesman for the office said.
"The Ukrainian authorities want to blame the Crimean leadership for allegedly not letting people out and to incite tensions at the border," he said.
"Those who are issuing such instructions disrespect their own citizens who want to leave Crimea," he said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier told the Black Sea Fleet commanders to allow the personnel of the Ukrainian Navy, who had decided to return into Ukraine, to do so in an organized manner, the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax earlier on Saturday.
"Of the 18,000 Ukrainian servicemen based in Crimea, less than 2,000 had volunteered to return to Ukraine by March 21," the spokesman said.
The news agency Kryminform has reported that the Ukrainian border guards had tightened the rules of clearing residents of Crimea into Ukraine under the pretext of "preventing provocations."
"The border regime was tightened a few days ago to prevent provocations by people with Ukrainian passports. Tensions have abated now and the border regime will be relaxed," Ukrainian Border Service spokesman Oleh Slobodyan told Kryminform on Saturday.
He neither confirmed nor denied reports that cars with Crimean number plates and residents of Crimea aged under 50 are not being cleared into Ukraine.
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