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Local Russians react to Ukraine crisis

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 04 2014 09:06:03 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 05 2014 04:35:45 AM CST

Izzy Shakirzynov moved to the United States from southern Russia ten years ago.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Izzy Shakirzynov moved to the United States from southern Russia 10 years ago.

He eventually settled down in Allentown. He still visits his homeland.

Shakirzynov said he keeps up with Russian and Ukrainian newspapers to stay informed on the situation.

He describes the violence and protests in Ukraine as a fight over loyalty between Russia and Western Europe.

"Let's not forget the history. Ukraine, along with 15 other countries, used to be part of the Soviet Union," Shakirzynov said.

He said the people of Ukraine's Crimean region should be allowed to vote on which country they want to belong to.

"I think they should just hold a people's referendum. And just decide that, okay so, 50 percent vote for this point of view, 50 percent for this point of view, so let's just legal it. Separate and just go our ways," Shakirzynov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin contends that Russians living in Crimea are also facing violence.

Shakirzynov said it's Russia's duty to protect Russian-Ukrainians.

"With the turmoil in the Ukraine, where there is a humongous amount of Russian people. Russia will have to make some moves. It cannot stay indifferent to the situation," Shakirzynov said.

While some believe it would be invasive and unlawful for Russian troops to settle on Ukrainian land, Shakirzynov said it would likely help.

"From my point of view, Russia is not there to implement its will, but rather to help… If there is going to be no involvement, I believe it will only be more victims, more chaos," Shakirzynov said.

Shakirzynov said he's hopeful it will eventually end peacefully, but he fears it will get worse before it gets better.