Earlier today, pro-Russian protestors in the Eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv clashed violently with police in front of government buildings, hung Russian flags from the buildings and even set a date for a referendum on independence.
Ukrainian authorities reported that the government buildings in Kharkiv had been cleared of protestors, but that protestors continued to occupy buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk. The most recent reports from Pravda also state that pro-Russian secessionists in Luhansk have broken into the security services arsenal and stolen weapons.
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Ukraine’s acting president called an emergency security meeting in response to the uprising and state police have sealed off the city of Luhansk. Ukrainian officials are rightfully alarmed, as tens of thousands of Russian troops are currently massed along the border with Ukraine, and this type of “civilian” provocation is what preceded the Russian takeover of Crimea.
Details on the incidents
In Donetsk, pro-Russian secessionists seized the city administration building over the weekend. On Monday they called for the creation of a “people’s republic” independent of Ukrainian rule, according to several media sources. Media reports also stated that the activists have demanded that a referendum be held by May 11 on the secession of the Donetsk area.
In Luhansk, several dozen protesters broke through the police lines and made it inside the city security service building trying to free 15 pro-Russian activists who were arrested a few days earlier on charges of sedition and unrest. Media reports said at least two people had been injured in the violence, and TV pictures from the scene showed an injured riot policeman being evacuated.
Statement from Ukraine’s Prime Minister
“This is the plan of destabilizing Ukraine in action,” said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at a Cabinet meeting. “The plan for foreign troops to cross the border and attack the country. We won’t let it happen.”
“Russia’s scenario is division and destruction of Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk continued. “The withdrawal of Russian troops from the border didn’t actually happen. All the troops are located within a 30-kilometer zone near the border.”