President-elect Petro Poroshenko’s inauguration is on Saturday, but that is not slowing down the violence in east Ukraine. Pro-Russian forces shot down the An-26 transport aircraft in Slaviansk on Friday.
According to anti-terrorist operation spokesman Vladyslav Selezniov, it was not a surveillance plane but “was carrying a humanitarian cargo, which was put together by volunteers.” The self-proclaimed mayor of Slaviansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, tried to claim the plane was an An-30; a YouTube video shows the plane on fire as it heads to the ground.
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In another incident, the pro-Russians killed a member of Ukraine’s interior ministry’s special forces and wounded two others. Slaviansk residents have been leaving all week to escape the violence. A water pipeline broke on Tuesday and cannot be fixed due to the violence.
“Today I didn’t go out at all. I hear the explosions, the shelling. They have been firing all day,” Larissa Akincheva, 50, told Reuters. “You could hear the planes circling overhead, I don’t know if they were scouting or what.”
Another woman was headed to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in mid-March. She brought her daughter and 12-month-old grandchild, stating that mortars fell around her house for 24 hours.
“We decided to leave after the air strike on Luhansk and the clashes around the Mirny border control – that’s where we live,” said Elena. “We are leaving because we cannot live with these Ukrainian killers.”