Russian NTV reported on 27 February that some Crimean “self-defence units” had seized the parliament building in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag on top of it.
The reporter, Alexey Kondulukov, interviewed a “witness” of the takeover, a certain Leonid Khazanov who claimed he even had helped the “self-defence units” carry loads into the parliament. Similar news was carried by other media, including Russian news agency ITAR-TASS and the Euronews Russia.
The Russian-speaking “civil guardsmen” grouped together to protect the peninsula from Ukrainian nationalists, they claimed.
The “self-defence units” were in fact Russian military spetsnaz commandos, former head of Ukraine’s security service, Yevhen Marchuk, said. Crimean government building and the Belbek airport were seized in a similar fashion.
The spetsnaz controlled the parliament as deputies voted a referendum on Crimea’s secession from Ukraine.
The “witness” Leonid Khazanov turns out to be a low-profile actor living in Simferopol. He appropriated the surname of a famous actor, Gennady Khazanov, as well as the titles “Honoured Artist of Russia” and “Honoured Artist of Ukraine” (to which he admitted in this interview).
The actor earlier confirmed he had done stand-up comedy in Chechnya and Dagestan.