Pro-Russia protesters seize Ukraine buildings, Kiev blames Putin

 

Pro-Russian protesters stand inside the seized regional administrative building in Kharkiv  on April 6, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Pro-Russian protesters stand inside the seized regional administrative building in Kharkiv on April 6, 2014. Credit: Reuters

Pro-Russian protesters seized state buildings in three east Ukrainian cities on Sunday, triggering accusations from the pro-European government in Kiev that President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating “separatist disorder.”

The protesters stormed regional government buildings in the industrial hub of Donetsk and security service offices in nearby Luhansk, waving Russian flags and demanding a Crimea-style referendum on joining Russia.

Protesters also later seized the regional administrative building in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, Interfax news agency reported. All three cities lie close to Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov vowed to restore order in eastern Ukraine without using violence and also accused Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, whose political base was in Donetsk, of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions.

“Putin and Yanukovich ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive,” Avakov said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law enforcement officers, it’s true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs.”

Acting President Oleksander Turchinov called an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Kiev and took personal control of the situation, the parliamentary press service said.

Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tensions since Yanukovich’s overthrow in February and the advent of an interim government in Kiev that backs closer ties with the European Union.

Russia has branded the new government illegitimate and has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region, citing threats to its Russian-speaking majority – a move that has sparked the biggest standoff between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

REFERENDUM DEMAND

Around 1,500 people protested in Donetsk on Sunday before breaking into the regional administration building, where they hung a Russian flag from a second-floor balcony, a Reuters witness said. Protesters outside cheered and chanted “Russia! Russia!”.

In the Luhansk protest, Ukrainian television said three people had been injured. Police could not confirm the report.

Talking to the crowd over a loudspeaker, protest leaders in Donetsk said they wanted regional lawmakers to convene an emergency meeting to discuss a vote on joining Russia like the one in Ukraine’s Crimea region that led to its annexation.

“Deputies of the regional council should convene before midnight and take the decision to carry out a referendum,” one of the protest leaders said, without identifying himself.

A local Internet portal streamed footage from the seized building, showing people entering and exiting freely. Soviet-era music was being played over loudspeakers outside.

The building houses the offices of Serhiy Taruta, a steel baron recently appointed by the interim government in Kiev as governor of a region with close economic and historical ties to Russia.

“Around 1,000 people took part (in the storming of the building), mostly young people with their faces covered,” said Ihor Dyomin, a spokesman for Donetsk local police.

“Around 100 people are now inside the building and are barricading the building,” he added.

In Luhansk, Reuters television showed images of hundreds of people outside the state security services building and a policeman in riot armor being carried away on a stretcher.

Ukrainian television said the Luhansk protesters were demanding the release of people detained by security services in recent days as well as a referendum on joining Russia.

“We don’t want to join the EU, we don’t want to join NATO. We want our children to live in peace,” an unnamed woman told Ukraine’s Channel Five in Luhansk.

Ukraine’s state security services said on Saturday they had detained 15 people in Luhansk suspected of planning to overthrow the authorities and had confiscated hundreds of rifles, grenades and petrol bombs.

Pro-Russian demonstrators have held rallies in recent weeks in several eastern Ukrainian cities, not far from a border where Moscow has assembled tens of thousands of troops.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Movies

From 'La Femme Nikita' to 'Lucy,' a list…

French filmmaker Luc Besson has created a cottage industry of junk cinema. Here are his many unique action heroes, including Liam Neeson and "Lucy"'s Lucy.

Movies

Review: 'Lucy,' with Scarlett Johansson, is smart, stupid…

Luc Besson's "Lucy," in which Scarlett Johansson gains increased control over her brain, is a film about smart and stupid but always enjoyable.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.