Hear what Russian officials texted Ukrainian residents under Putin’s martial law order.
At a Moscow airport on the night he imposed martial law, Vladimir Putin issued an ultimatum to residents of Crimea, then told them to leave within 48 hours. Moscow had already begun deporting and jailing the Crimean Tatar population, and residents of Crimea were told to “prepare for evacuation.” But the Ukrainian government refused to leave, saying that the Russian troops there were part of a “humanitarian mission” to protect civilians from “terrorist threats.” Russia has denied that it has troops in Crimea.
In the morning, Russian officials began texting the Ukrainian residents of Crimea, telling them that they “have 48 hours to leave or they will be charged with illegal assembly and other crimes” for staying in Crimea, according to the Associated Press. The text messages “were sent while Mr. Putin was on the verge of imposing martial law in Crimea,” said Pavel Poltoranin, a researcher for the independent website Bellona. “Apparently, [Putin] did not want to create the risk of a conflict between the two men,” added Poltoranin. The government is offering a compensation of about two million Russian rubles ($17,500) to Crimean residents who want to leave Crimea within 48 hours, and a payment of $1,000 for everyone who chooses to stay.
In his message to the local population, he told them, “there have been no grounds for the accusation of illegal assembly or other charges against you [in the case of Crimean authorities]. All of you should respect the rights of others.”
“According to the law, we have all the rights to move to another country regardless of the circumstances. I think this is a wrong interpretation of the law. The law is clear in what it is about and where it’s coming from,” said Ukrainian opposition politician Yurii Zheleznyak. “In this case they are violating the law by blocking the people out of Crimea. This is an example of the authoritarian and illegal nature of the order,” he said.
“This is a