Pro-Russia Demonstrators in Donetsk, Luhansk Capture More Government Buildings

Pro-Russia Demonstrators in Donetsk, Luhansk Capture More Government Buildings

More pro-Russia protests exploded in east Ukraine on Sunday. Protesters targeted government buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv.

Two-thousand people gathered at Lenin Square in Donetsk, but about 50 people left and took an administration building without any resistance from the police. They raised the Russian flag over the building and declared Donetsk is a Russian city.

“I came to support my people,” Lyubov, a female protester, told the Reuters news agency. “We are against that gang [in Kyiv], we are against fascism. I want Customs Union [with Russia]. Kyiv is not listening to us, the European Union is not listening to us. I would be happy for talks with the EU — let them come to Donetsk, to Donbas, and listen to us. No, they are only listening to those in Kyiv instead.”

Over 200 people stormed the Ukraine security service in Luhansk. Two protesters and one policeman were injured. They demanded the release of fifteen protesters who were arrested on suspicions of overthrowing authorities and for a referendum.

“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.

Protesters in Kharkiv also demanded a referendum to join the Russian Federation while pro-Ukrainians held their own rally. The police had to intervene and keep the groups separate. 

On March 16, Crimea held a referendum where the majority of Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin made the annexation official on March 21. Like Crimea, the majority of residents in east Ukraine are ethnic Russians and native Russian speakers. After Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted on February 22, the residents, especially the older generation, told reporters they longed for the days their industrial cities prospered under the Soviet Union.