Pro-Russian forces are now in control of all major government buildings in Luhansk, Ukraine. The rebels captured the police headquarters Sunday after several “aggressive” women reportedly broke through the large iron gates.
Photo: The Kyiv Post
When the gates were at last opened, 100 people came into the yard of the building together with Yuriy Ivakin, the newly appointed minister of interior affairs of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic. Ivakin promptly started giving commands to the police officers now under his control.
Ivakin said he was a retired police general who found it hard to accept this post. The Luhansk People’s Republic is considered to be a terrorist organization by Ukraine’s authorities, and numerous criminal cases were opened against its authorities.
“But someone had to do this. So I came here to solve the issue peacefully, I don’t want any bloodshed,” he told the Kyiv Post.
The police did not resist and left the building peacefully. No one knows if or how many of the officers will abandon the government in Kyiv and join the pro-Russian forces. After the police departed, the group of people outside entered the building and removed the Ukrainian flag.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said the police were moved to Starobilsk, a nearby area still in Kyiv’s control.
On May 11, Luhansk participated in a referendum to leave Ukraine and form the “Luhansk People’s Republic.” Luhansk and Donetsk, which formed the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” claim 90% of the people voted “yes” in the referendum to declare independence. The next day, the new DPR asked Moscow to join Russia but has not received any feedback from the Kremlin.
Ukraine is holding a presidential election on May 25, but Luhansk and Donetsk will not participate.