SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- While politicians argue over the legitimacy of a referendum called by Crimea's regional parliament, which will allow residents of the southeastern Ukrainian peninsula to decide whether it should remain a part of Ukraine, or become part of Russia, there is already a clear reality on the ground.
The referendum is more than a week away, but CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer reported Friday that the peninsula is already being run as if it had joined Russia.
Russian flags fly atop public buildings. On Thursday, a group of Ukrainian journalists who arrived by private helicopter to report on the crisis were promptly escorted back out by Russian attack helicopters.
Local, independent Crimean TV has been taken off the air, leaving only Russian programming from across the border available on the airwaves.
The Crimean TV station's news anchor Lidia Taran is outraged. Citizens of Crimea -- who she says are first and foremost citizens of Ukraine -- have been denied the right to objective information.
As for international military monitors dispatched to Ukraine to take stock of the situation in Crimea, the message to them was abundantly clear on Thursday: butt-out.
Organization spokesperson Tatyana Baeva said in Vienna that it wasn't clear who had stopped the mission, which had been formed at Ukraine's request.
But Palmer said it is clear who is in charge; Russia and pro-Russian groups are making the rules in Crimea now, with plenty of military muscle to back them up.