By Mick Krever, CNN
Responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s allegations that there are neo-Nazis threatening the Ukrainian population, Ukraine’s top negotiator with the Crimean government invited “any international organization” to come to Ukraine and see the situation for themselves.
“We are open for any observers to come to any part of Ukraine and to be absolutely sure that Ukraine now outside of the Crimea is absolutely safe,” Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian MP and former Foreign Minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“We have lots of the different nationalities including Jews in our government. And I think that [Putin] is simply not [an] understandable position.”
The Russian president launched the accusation at a press conference earlier on Tuesday.
"We have a request of the legitimate President Yanukovych to protect the welfare of the local population,” he said. “We have neo-Nazis and Nazis and anti-Semites in parts of Ukraine, including Kiev.”
“You don’t find any tiny arguments to confirm the words of President Putin,” Poroshenko said.
“That would be our very strong answer: ‘Please, come to Ukraine. We are open for any dialogue.’”
There was some slight sign of dialogue – thus far absent – on Tuesday, Poroshenko told Amanpour, though it was not necessarily promising.
“Today we have the first sign of contact between our minister of defense and Russian minister of defense. We have the first contact for other ministers. But it is not a negotiation, unfortunately.”
“We try to do our best to use any opportunity for the peaceful negotiation. But until now we don’t have anything of hope or readiness from the Russian side.”
Poroshenko is known as Ukraine's “Chocolate Billionaire” because of his vast confectionary empire, and has been touted as a possible presidential candidate.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ukraine on Tuesday and met with Poroshenko, among
Kerry said that there is “not a single piece of credible evidence” to support Russian justifications for intervention in Crimea.
“Russia has talked about Russian-speaking citizens being under siege. They're not,” Kerry said in Kiev.
“I think this is very important to have Secretary Kerry today here in Kiev,” Poroshenko told Amanpour.
A “friend in need is a friend indeed.”
In his press conference earlier in the day, Putin said described the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych as an “anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power,” and said he is the legitimate president of the country.
“His era is finished and he is a criminal,” Poroshenko said. “He is a war criminal.”