Ukraine interim President Oleksandr Turchynov held a televised press conference to address the violent takeovers of cities in east Ukraine. He announced Kyiv will “launch a large-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
He promised amnesty for any of the pro-Russians who do not shoot at Ukrainian police and leave by Monday morning. However, those who do not comply and continue to occupy government buildings will face punishment.
Pro-Russian forces have captured government buildings in cities in Donetsk Oblast throughout this weekend. A shootout between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians in Sloviansk left two people dead and several wounded. One of the dead included a state security officer and five of the wounded were law enforcement officers. Over five ambulances were rushed to Kharkiv’s central square after pro-Russians attacked pro-Ukrainians. Turchynov believes Russia is behind the attacks.
“The aggressor has not stopped and is continuing to sow disorder in the east of the country,” he said, referring to a rash of attacks on state buildings by pro-Russian militants in towns in Russia-speaking areas of the east.
“We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of the country,” referring to Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula following its take-over by pro-Russian militants.
Turchynov also said Kyiv is ready to give regions more local power, which is what Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told regional leaders in east Ukraine on April 11. East Ukraine has a large ethnic Russian, Russian speaking population and demanded more autonomy from Kyiv after parliament ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych. Many were outraged when Kyiv overturned a law that allowed Russian-speaking cities to use Russian as their official language.