Pro-Russians captured an administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine and on Monday, declared the region the Donetsk People’s Republic. A referendum will be held on May 11 to leave Ukraine. From The Kyiv Post:
The declaration of independence, which was read by the separatists during a live broadcast by one of their activists, said that “the people of Donetsk People’s Republic have an exclusive right for its land, subsoil, air space, water and other natural resources” and that the republic has a right for an independent financial, economic and other policies.
“The declaration is effective from the moment of its approval and serves as basis for approval of the Constitution of Donetsk People’s Republic,” it said.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov blames Russia and said Kyiv will take action to restore stability.
“Anti-terrorism measures will be adopted against those that took up weapons,” Turchinov said, adding that parliament would convene Tuesday to consider tougher penalties for separatist actions and even ban parties that engage in separatism.
The protesters took over the building on Sunday and raised the Russian flag. Police made no attempts to stop the people because they were armed. These protesters released videos and one showed a person naming all the groups responsible for the takeover.
He said they were People’s Militia of Donbass headed by Pavlo Gubarev, who has been in custody for organizing mass disturbances since March 6; the People’s Liberation Movement of Andrei Fyodorov; the Russian Block; and an organization called the Essence of Time led by Sergei Kurginyan.
An intercepted radio communication from April 6 also indicated that the events in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv are coordinated from the same center. A senior official at the National Security and Defense Council confirmed that the conversation is authentic.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk also accused Russia of the disturbances. He said Russia wants to use their troops to invade east Ukraine and the government will not allow it. Russia put thousands of troops on the border and engaged in military exercises. Moscow said it was to familiarize the soldiers with unknown lands, but Kyiv did not believe them and decided to form a national guard with 60,000 people.
Protesters invaded Ukraine’s security services building in Luhansk and demanded the release of fifteen prisoners. Authorities arrested these people on suspicions of overthrowing officials in Luhansk and found them armed with hundreds of weapons. Kharkiv is facing more protests on Monday.
East Ukraine is largely pro-Russia and supported ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych. Residents, especially the older generation, want to break off from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation like Crimea. Moscow officially annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine on March 21. Ukraine and the West do not recognize the annexation.