In Crimea, fears of violence

The silhouette of a Ukrainian soldier is seen against a Ukrainian flag as Ukrainian soldiers wait inside the Sevastopol tactical military brigade base in Sevastopol on March 3, 2014.

Russian troops moved into Crimea – a peninsula in the southern part of Ukraine -- over the weekend.

"One way to describe it is it’s just extremely extremely tense," says the BBC’s Natalia Antelava, from Simferopol, the administrative center of Crimea.

She says daily life has not stopped, but it has only been a few days since the Russians arrived. Today there are people out in the streets, grocery stores are open, and there are no lines at gas stations. Still, Russian soldiers have taken over government buildings and the prices have gone up for things like food and fuel.

There are also fears about rising ethnic conflict between Ukrainians, Russians, and the Tatar Muslims that all call the area home.  Antelava says, “the presence of Russian troops have enflamed tensions that have existed here, but that have been dormant for a really long time.”

So far, there hasn’t been a mass exodus of people leaving the peninsula, “but there is definitely a lot of nervousness.”

She’s talked to many men who say they will send their wives and children away but plan to stay in Crimea themselves “in case they need to fight.”

"The biggest concern right now isn’t even the economy, I think it’s violence."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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