That night, two Russian special forces teams numbering 110 overran the buildings of the Crimean Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers. 70 of them barricaded themselves in the Crimean Parliament building and another 40 in the Cabinet of Ministers building.

Crimean MPS who arrived to the captured building for a session, voted to dismiss the Anatoly Mogilyov government and appoint Sergey Aksyonov, leader of the Russian Unity Party, Prime Minister of Crimea.

“It was then that we realized that something went wrong,” says Refat Chubarov.

To prevent the situation from escalating and avoid provocations, the Mejlis called on Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists not to stage any rallies or protests.

“Everybody was waiting for the reaction from the Ukrainian troops stationed in large numbers in Crimea,” says Mustafa Jemilev, leader of Crimean Tatars.

However, there was no response from Kiev. And though there was Alfa task force in Simferopol at the time, they didn’t seem to have received any orders.

On February 27, the Supreme Council of Crimea announced a referendum on ‘joining’ Russia. The vote was supposed to take place on May 25, but it got rescheduled to March 16.