Image 1 of 1
A man stands in front of a memorial of flowers and candles for those killed during clashes between anti-government protestors and riot police on 20 February 2014. Protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych led to him fleeing the country in February 2014 just days after about 80 people died in confrontations between protestors and security forces. An interim government took over scheduling an election for May. Meanwhile in Crimea pro-Russian activists, supported by Russian special forces, responded by occupying official buildings and hurriedly arranging a highly contentious referendum which resulted in an overwhelming majority voting to join Russia. President Putin took the opportunity to annexe the peninsular triggering Western sanctions. In eastern Ukraine, with much of the population also deeply suspicious of the new authorities in Kiev, pro-Russian protestors followed a similar modus operandi, seizing official buildings and establishing a local power base. With Russia and the West blaming each other for destabilising Ukraine the situation became increasingly tense with fears raised of a Russian invasion or a wider conflict engulfing the region.