March 7 - With Russians rallying in support of the Crimean people and demonstrators in Kiev protesting against Russia's military presence in Crimea, President Vladimir Putin says he could not ignore calls for help in Crimea. Jillian Kitchener reports.
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Over twenty thousand people gather in Moscow in support of the Crimean people.
Letters on the stage read: "We are Together."
Many these participants believe Crimea is Russian land.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) LAWYER FROM MOSCOW, ANATOLY, SAYING:
"I think we need to support (Crimea), because really it is our land, our grandfathers and grand- grandfathers shed their blood there."
But in Kiev, protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy... against Russia's military presence in Crimea.
According to President Vladimir Putin, Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
His spokesman defended Russia's stance:
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN'S SPOKESMAN DMITRY PESKOV SPEAKING THROUGH VIDEOLINK FROM SOCHI, SAYING:
"What is happening in the east (of Ukraine) and in Crimea does not have anything to do with the Russian Federation, these are not the processes initiated by anyone, moreover they are not a result of certain Russia's actions. Rather the opposite, Russia is the country which was asked to help, and as Putin rightfully said Russia is the country which in this particular case cannot ignore these processes. But the origin of these processes is inside Ukraine."
Ukraine's border guards said Moscow had poured troops into Crimea. An aide said there were now 30,000 Russian soldiers in the region.
The crisis is being described as the most serious east-west confrontation since the end of the Cold War.
Now, Crimea's parliament has voted to join Russia.
And preparations have begun for the upcoming referendum set for March 16.
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