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News, March 2014
Two Regions in East Ukraine Proclaim Independence, Prepare to Resist Kiev Crackdown
April 9, 2014
Kiev cracks down on eastern Ukraine after 2 regions proclaim independence
Russia TV, April 08, 2014 14:50
Dozens have been arrested as Kiev authorities launched a crackdown on anti-Maidan activists in cities of eastern Ukraine that attempted to declare their independence.
At least 70 activists have been arrested after a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” launched by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry in the eastern city of Kharkov.
According to the country’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, “the building of the regional state administration is totally free of the separatists who seized it earlier.”
Hundreds of protesters rallied in Svoboda Square near Kharkov’s regional council building, demanding the release of 70 pro-Russian activists later on Tuesday. The building was surrounded by police.
On Monday, Kharkov protesters erected barricades around administrative buildings and the regional headquarters of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). The demonstrators soon took control of the building.
This was followed by clashes with police who reportedly unleashed fire-hoses, stun grenades and tear gas to push the crowd back from the building. In response, protesters threw several Molotov cocktails at the building and set a pile of tires on fire. The blaze soon spread to the first floor of the building.
Eventually, a group of local police outside the administration building moved in to push protesters back, allowing fire crews to extinguish the blaze. The building was slightly damaged by the blaze and several windows were broken in the scuffles.
Activists at the scene said the law enforcement officers who used force against protesters had been deployed from western Ukraine. According to some witnesses, the violence was initially triggered by a group of provocateurs.
Despite the crackdown, a group of at least 150 people gathered in front of Kharkov’s administration building Tuesday to protest against the new authorities in Kiev.
Ukraine’s southeast has been seeing weekly anti-Maidan demonstrations.
In Donetsk, activists proclaimed the creation of a People’s Republic of Donetsk after seizing the local administration building.
This action on Monday was also followed by a special operation. Police took weapons seized by the protesters in the SBU’s regional headquarters, Donetsk Mayor Aleksandr Lukyanchenko said.
A woman raises her fist as pro-Russians demonstrate in front of the Donetsk regional administration building, held by pro-Russian militants, on April 8, 2014. (AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)
Ukrainian media however report that the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk has ceased to exist.
“The Committee on Patriotic forces of Donbass has been receiving numerous calls from the public voicing their disagreement with the proclamation of the republic and its joining the neighboring state as well as conducting a referendum – all those without a legal base in place,” Ukrainskaya Pravda daily cited the committee said as saying.
The proclamation and referendum plans were thus annulled till the legal base is created, the committee said. The group’s original posting on Facebook has become unavailable.
Lugansk, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk
On Tuesday, protesters gathered in Lugansk – also outside the regional department of the SBU. Interfax-Ukraine reported that the protesters were setting up barricades and pouring flammable mixtures on them.
The speakers at the demonstration called for the creation of a parliament of the Lugansk republic, choosing new MPs and establishing a new government. Calls for an independence referendum were also heard.
On Monday, clashes erupted in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikolaev after at least 300 activists attempted to storm the city administration building. The protesters were also trying to remove the Ukrainian flag from the administration building. Police reportedly used rubber bullets to force the crowd back from the building.
At least 15 people have been injured, with 11 of them were admitted to hospital, and more than 20 arrested, the city’s Health Department reported.
An elderly woman looks at the Russian flag set up by pro-Russian activists at a barricade blocking access to the Ukrainian Security Service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 8, 2014.(AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)
After pro-Russian demonstrators expressed their discontent with Kiev authorities in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, the city authorities moved to negotiate with the anti-government activists.
According to the region’s deputy governor, Boris Filatov, both the “left-wing” and the pro-Russian protesters agreed to refrain from “calls for separatist actions.” In return, the authorities said they will let the activists use some offices in the administrative buildings for their “meetings and work,” as well as provide them with “free access” to local printed media.
Meanwhile, Russia has called on Kiev and Washington not to ignore the interests of all of Ukraine’s regions, including those in southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concerns over the build-up of Ukrainian forces and US mercenaries in southeastern parts of the country, calling on Kiev to immediately cease military preparations which could lead to a civil war.
According to Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, the coup-appointed government in Ukraine has not made any positive steps towards these regions and the people there “fear that their interests are being ignored by Kiev.”
Donetsk activists proclaim region's independence from Ukraine
Russia TV, April 07, 2014 10:07
In the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a group of activists have declared their region independent from Kiev. This comes after protesters stormed a local government building last night.
Mass demonstrations against the country's new leadership started peacefully on Sunday, but the situation quickly escalated.
Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk have seized the local power building, including the headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine and proclaimed the creation of a People’s Republic of Donetsk.
Ukraine’s police and security services have not interfered, although officials in Kiev are threatening punishment for the rioters.
Protesters have erected barricades around the Council building.
Pro-Russian activists guard a barricade set at the Ukrainian regional Security Service building on the eastern city of Donetsk on April 7, 2014.(AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)
Today at 12:20 local time, a session of the people's Council of Donbass (Donetsk region) took place in the main hall of the Regional Council and unanimously voted on a declaration to form a new independent state: the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
The Council proclaimed itself the only legitimate body in the region until the regions in southeast Ukraine conduct a general referendum, set to take place no later than May 11.
“The Donetsk Republic is to be created within the administrative borders of the Donetsk region. This decision will come into effect after the referendum,” the statement said.
The Council in Donetsk issued an address to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for deployment of a temporary peacekeeping force to the region.
“Without support it will be hard for us to stand against the junta in Kiev,” said the address.
“We are addressing Russian President Putin because we can only entrust our security to Russia,” the statement said.
Screenshot from ustream.tv user artem77
Rallies in support of the federalization of Ukraine continue in a number of cities in southeast Ukraine. Thousands of citizens have joined the protests, demanding the earliest possible federalization of the country.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior said that last night unknown persons stormed the Security Service of Ukraine building in the city of Lugansk and seized a weapons warehouse there. During the night’s clashes, nine people were reportedly injured.
Pro-Russian activistshold a rally in front of Ukraine's regional security service of Ukraine in Lugansk on April 6, 2014.(AFP Photo / Igor Golovniov )
In the city of Kharkov protesters erected barricades around the buildings of the city and the regional administrations and the regional headquarters of Security Service of Ukraine.
There were brief clashes between supporters of the federalization of Ukraine and pro-EU demonstrators in downtown Kharkov. Protesters on both sides used fire crackers and stun grenades.
A demonstration against political repression in Ukraine has also being held in the southern regional center of Odessa.
Pro-Russian activists near the Kharkov city administration.(RIA Novosti / Chekachkov Igor)
The chiefs of security agencies of Ukraine are reportedly heading to the cities engulfed in protests.
The interim secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Andrey Parubiy, together with acting head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentin Nalivaichenko, are set to visit Lugansk. Interim Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema will visit Donetsk and acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has reportedly already arrived in Kharkov.
The coup-appointed acting president, Aleksandr Turchinov, has threatened that counter-terrorist measures could be taken against those who take up arms against the Kiev authorities, RIA news agency reported. On Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament will tighten laws regarding separatism and could possibly ban certain parties and organizations , Turchinov warned.
“What happened yesterday is the second stage of the special operation of the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” announced Turchinov in an address televised on Monday, sharing that an “anti-crisis command was set up last night” to deal with the crisis, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
Ukraine’s interim Foreign Minister Andrey Deschitsa announced on Monday that if the situation in the eastern regions escalates, the coup-appointed government in Kiev will take “much harsher” measures than those on the reunion of the Crimea with Russia. Deschitsa gave an assurance that members of the government are already working with local authorities.
Separatists build barricades in east Ukraine, Kiev warns of force
By Thomas Grove
Wed Apr 9, 2014 8:59am EDT
Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.
But protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.
The former KGB headquarters is one of three government buildings seized this week in eastern Ukraine by protesters demanding regional referendums on independence from Kiev, like the one in Crimea that led to its annexation by Russia.
Tensions have risen in the mainly Russian-speaking east since the overthrow of Ukraine's Moscow-backed president and the installation of a new pro-European government.
"Of course we must ask Russia to take us in because I don't see an alternative," said a man dressed in camouflage who gave his name as Vasiliy and said he was the commandant of the building. "Putin help us!" he said.
Sandbags and wooden crates were piled near the entrance of the building to defend it against the police. Men with rifles could be seen through broken windows above.
Local police spokeswoman Tatyana Pogukai said protesters had found an arsenal of weapons within the building. Protesters say they have 200-300 Kalashnikov automatic rifles. She denied previous reports that hostages had been taken.
She said negotiations had been carried out overnight but the two sides had not come to an agreement.
"They won't put down their weapons until there is agreement on a referendum," she said.
Protesters in Donetsk, to the south, remain in control of the main regional authority building, but authorities have ended the occupation in the city of Kharkiv.
"A resolution to this crisis will be found within the next 48 hours," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told reporters in the capital Kiev.
"For those who want dialogue, we propose talks and a political solution. For the minority who want conflict they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities," he said.
Ukraine's state security service said that 50 people had left the building in Luhansk overnight. Protesters confirmed that some had left.
Activists, many in balaclavas and masks, continued to build makeshift barricades and prepared petrol bombs.
"Those who left were not ready to stay and fight," said Vasiliy, who said his "soldiers" would fight on until a referendum on independence from Kiev was held.
Ukraine's government says the actions are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country, a charge Moscow denies.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring up separatist unrest and said Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea.
Russia denied the accusations on Wednesday and dismissed concerns over a troop buildup near the border with Ukraine in what has become the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War in 1991.
"The United States and Ukraine have no reason to be worried," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "Russia has stated many times that it is not carrying out any unusual or unplanned activity on its territory near the border with Ukraine that would be of military significance."
A lawmaker from the most popular political party in the east, the Party of Regions, on Wednesday said he planned to ask parliament to amnesty the protesters, following the success of a similar move to reduce tension in Kiev two months ago.
"The situation is so tense and complex that one stray word might cause a flare-up," said Oleksandr Yefremov. "To prevent people suffering ... we are proposing a draft law on an amnesty."
Several hundred people remained camped outside the regional administration building in Donetsk manning barricades of tyres and barbed wire as the Soviet anthem played over loudspeakers.
A member of parliament who supports the Donetsk protesters said they would remain at the building until their demands for increased independence from Kiev were met.
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