Ukraine crisis: ‘If these new Nazis come here from the Maidan, we will fight them as well’ - Crimea has no love for President Yanukovych, but the alternative is much worse to locals

Calls to break away from Kiev continue in Sevastopol’s Nakhimova Square

Balaclava

Viktor Yanukovych was walking along the quayside at Balaclava Bay on Monday. Svetlana Gorbunova saw him with her own eyes; she was only surprised that the deposed President of the Ukraine, a hunted man, was by himself, unaccompanied by bodyguards.

That, at least, is how it was described by Mrs Gorbnova's daughter, Anastasia. Then there was the yacht, either called the Warrior or Centurion, depending on differing fishermen's tales, secretly slipping out to sea with mysterious supercargo. Others talked about the helicopter of the Spetznatz, the Russian special forces, flying out at night with muffled wings from Sevastopol's airport.

But, while rumours and hearsay continue to swirl over the whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, developments were taking place on the ground underlining the bitter divisions and thirst for retribution created by the revolution.

Andriy Klyuev, one of the former leader's closest aides, was injured in an ambush, shot in the legs, it was reported. He had accompanied Mr Yanukovych on his flight out of Kiev, but had left his post after arriving in Crimea. The ambush took place as he was driving back to the capital where two dozen armed men burst into his dacha in the suburbs.

Read more: Ukrainian parliament calls for Yanukovych trial Comment: Russian cheque books have led Cameron astray Editorial: Building bridges with Russia over Ukraine's future

In Sevastopol, the city with the largest Russian population in the country, a Russian citizen, Aleksei Chaliy, was made mayor by the city's authorities, replacing Vladimir Yatsuba, who had been appointed by the government. Officials in Kiev condemned the move, but the local police chief, Aleksandr Goncharov, declared that he would do nothing to remove the new incumbent; he had no intention of following "criminal orders", he said, from the "false" administration which had taken over in the capital.

Road blocks had been set up into roads coming into Sevastopol and Balaclava, supposedly to stop armed opposition groups from coming into the area from Kiev and the west of the country. At one checkpoint a policeman claimed that a coach-load had already been turned back 24 hours earlier. "They had seen on the news that Yanukovych was seen in the area and said they had come to arrest him. We told them to go away, there would have been trouble if they had come in."

The Maidan protesters wish to arrest Viktor Yanukovych (Getty) The Maidan protesters wish to arrest Viktor Yanukovych (Getty) That sighting of the leader had been reported by Arsen Avakov, the new interior minister, a member of the Fatherland Party, whose leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, has just been freed from prison and has declared she intended to stand in the coming elections.

In these parts many see the elections as being unconstitutional, engineered by violence. And, while in Britain the names Balaclava and Sevastopol may resonance for the Crimean War and the Charge of the Light Brigade, many here, beset by uncertainty and fear from the upheavals, are looking at more recent periods in history for guidance.

Mrs Gorbunova supposedly saw Mr Yanukovych in Balaclava in front of a cluster of four houses owned by his sons, Oleksandr and Viktor.

At the other side of the facing yachting marina, Vladimir, a watchman, declared: "What we need in Crimea now is a Stalin. You'll laugh at me for saying this, but we need someone like him to save us from those fascists in Kiev."

His second choice was Pyotr Wrangel, the brutal White Russian commander who had based himself here while fighting the Bolsheviks - "Russians make strong leaders," he says.

People walk past a makeshift memorial for those killed in recent violence in Kiev (Reuters) People walk past a makeshift memorial for those killed in recent violence in Kiev (Reuters) Russia's Black Sea fleet is based here and is a prime source of revenue. There is a constant complaint that the vast bulk of that flows to Kiev, with little going towards local development. The 50-year-old Vladimir was prepared to fight for Crimea to join Russia, claiming weapons have already been handed over by the local authorities to self-defence groups. "The only defence we will have would be with Russia. This is not about Yanukovych, he has looted the country, if I see him, I'll throw him in the water. But I don't owe anything to the thieves who had been running Ukraine; I have two degrees and this is the only job I have been able to get in the last seven years."

For Stefan Komorowski, defending Crimea will give a chance to avenge comrades. An officer in the riot police Berkut, or Golden Eagles, he was deployed on the frontline of action at Independence Square, the Maidan, in Kiev.

"There were policemen getting killed, but you did not see any of that on TV. When we eventually fired back, after all this provocation, we were made to be the devils. We have left behind colleagues who are badly wounded, paralysed. This was named a city of heroes because of the way we fought against the Germans. Now if these new Nazis from the Maidan come we shall fight them as well."

Calls to break away from Kiev continued in Sevastopol's Nakhimova Square. Leonid Gorskin, a teacher who has joined the self-defence force, said: "It's people like him who are trying to break up the country; they are being encouraged to do that  by the West. It is the Russians who are going to help us to defend what's ours. There's no point in talking on about Yanukovych, he will get beaten  up if we see him here. It is the future of our country we will be fighting for and it will start here, in Crimea."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'