Tourists "are turning back and beginning to go to Sochi," he said, referring to Russia's Black Sea resort. President Viktor Yushchenko's chief-of-staff, Oleh Rybachuk, said during a visit to Crimea's Simferopol that tourism was already down some 30 to 50 percent, the Unian news agency reported.
Daily demonstrations by pro-Russian parties and the Communists have been held on Crimea since the May 27 arrival of a ship that brought U.S. marine reservists and equipment to repair a Ukrainian training base ahead of a NATO-sponsored multinational training exercise.
The protests have come as Yushchenko has been pressing the parties involved in talks to form a governing coalition to commit to his goal of seeking NATO membership. Many in this ex-Soviet republic, particularly in the Russian-speaking south and east, remain hostile to their former Cold War foe. Moscow has also weighed in, warning that relations between the neighbors would suffer if Ukraine joined NATO, the AP reports.
Horbulin called the protests "well-planned and prepared, and not badly carried out." He accused a small, radical pro-Russian party and the Communists of being "the main actors
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his speech dedicated to the Day of the Russian Navy, recalled the threats that Russia is currently facing from a number of countries.