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In Pictures: Crimea's self-defence force
Pro-Russian units say they are maintaining order in the breakaway region, but they have been accused of abuses.
Last updated: 09 Apr 2014 14:54
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After the Russian intervention in Crimea and the subsequent inactivity of the Ukrainian police and security forces there, pro-Russian residents of Crimea decided to create what they are calling "self-defence units".

The units say their goal is to maintain security and thwart possible attempts by the Ukrainian or Tatar minorities to impede Russia's agenda in the breakaway region. Alexander Meduservsky is a member of a unit based in the municipality of Dobroe. "We are supporting the will of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Crimea," he said.

The units include civilians, students, workers, veterans from the Afghan and Chechen wars, bikers, Cossacks, and others. They wear civilian and camouflage clothes, and carry banners including the hammer-and-sickle flag and the Russian flag flown during the Romanov monarchy.

Mostly unarmed, but supported by Russian forces, the units control roads, borders, communications infrastructure, government buildings and the gates of Ukrainian army bases. Some international organisations, including Human Rights Watch, have reported that elements of these units have been accused of torture, kidnapping and murder - targeting residents who remain loyal to Kiev.


/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Unidentified military units consisting of Russian speakers initially played a role in taking over Ukrainian military bases in Crimea.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

A member of a pro-Russian unit shows his new identification documents in a compound on the outskirts of Simferopol, Crimea. 



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

With support from Russian troops, self-defence forces built checkpoints along major roads in Crimea.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Many members of the Ukrainian police in the municipality of Dobroe belong to the pro-Russia movement. The police station in Dobroe thus became the base of a local self-defence unit in the municipality, located near Simferopol.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

In the tense run-up to Crimea's referendum to join Russia, self-defence units focused on securing polling stations and government buildings.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

The Russian army and Crimean "self-defence units" laid siege to Ukranian army bases across Crimea. Above, a Ukrainian soldier ties a Sevastopol flag to the main gate of an air base in Perevalnoe.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Members of a pro-Russian self-defence unit guard the gates of a Ukrainian army base in Perevalnoe.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

An unidentified soldier holds his pistol at a checkpoint on the road between Simferopol and Sevastopol. 



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Many members of the Tatar and Ukrainian minorities boycotted the referendum on joining Russia. Above, a member of a pro-Russian self-defence unit casts his vote in a polling station in Bachisaray, an area mostly populated by Crimean Tatars.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

A Ukrainian woman tames a horse near Perevalnoe. Despite international tensions surrounding Russia's annexation of Crimea, daily life continues for most residents of the region.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Alejandro Meduservsky's grandparents fled to Crimea as political refugees after the Spanish Civil War. Both were fighters for the republican militias that fought against fascist rule in Spain. Today, Medusersvky is a leader of one of the self-defence units in Dobroe. He believes he is continuing the struggle of his grandparents. 



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Pro-Russian residents of Simferopol dance while gathering for a rally in support of the independence referendum.



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

Some elderly Crimeans say the region's infrastructure hasn't changed much since the Soviet era.  



/Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera

A Tatar woman cries as she sits in a car after the burial of Reshat Ametov, an ethnic Tatar, pro-Ukrainian activist and father of three, who disappeared after attending a rally on March 3 in Simferopol. The activist was last seen being led away from the rally by a group of men, according to his relatives. His body was found on March 16.



Follow photographer Manu Brabo on Twitter: @ManuBrabo


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images:
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captions:

Unidentified military units consisting of Russian speakers initially played a role in taking over Ukrainian military bases in Crimea.

;*;

A member of a pro-Russian unit shows his new identification documents in a compound on the outskirts of Simferopol, Crimea. 

;*;

With support from Russian troops, self-defence forces built checkpoints along major roads in Crimea.

;*;

Many members of the Ukrainian police in the municipality of Dobroe belong to the pro-Russia movement. The police station in Dobroe thus became the base of a local self-defence unit in the municipality, located near Simferopol.

;*;

In the tense run-up to Crimea(***)s referendum to join Russia, self-defence units focused on securing polling stations and government buildings.

;*;

The Russian army and Crimean "self-defence units" laid siege to Ukranian army bases across Crimea. Above, a Ukrainian soldier ties a Sevastopol flag to the main gate of an air base in Perevalnoe.

;*;

Members of a pro-Russian self-defence unit guard the gates of a Ukrainian army base in Perevalnoe.

;*;

An unidentified soldier holds his pistol at a checkpoint on the road between Simferopol and Sevastopol. 

;*;

Many members of the Tatar and Ukrainian minorities boycotted the referendum on joining Russia. Above, a member of a pro-Russian self-defence unit casts his vote in a polling station in Bachisaray, an area mostly populated by Crimean Tatars.

;*;

A Ukrainian woman tames a horse near Perevalnoe. Despite international tensions surrounding Russia(***)s annexation of Crimea, daily life continues for most residents of the region.

;*;

Alejandro Meduservsky(***)s grandparents fled to Crimea as political refugees after the Spanish Civil War. Both were fighters for the republican militias that fought against fascist rule in Spain. Today, Medusersvky is a leader of one of the self-defence units in Dobroe. He believes he is continuing the struggle of his grandparents. 

;*;

Pro-Russian residents of Simferopol dance while gathering for a rally in support of the independence referendum.

;*;

Some elderly Crimeans say the region(***)s infrastructure hasn(***)t changed much since the Soviet era.  

;*;

A Tatar woman cries as she sits in a car after the burial of Reshat Ametov, an ethnic Tatar, pro-Ukrainian activist and father of three, who disappeared after attending a rally on March 3 in Simferopol. The activist was last seen being led away from the rally by a group of men, according to his relatives. His body was found on March 16.

Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
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Image Source:
Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera;*;Manu Brabo/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
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