Fifteen Gunmen Seize Police Station in Sloviansk, Ukraine

Fifteen Gunmen Seize Police Station in Sloviansk, Ukraine

Armed pro-Russians took control of the police station in Sloviansk in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast. Another group of gunmen attempted to capture a police station in Shaktarsk, also in Donetsk, but failed.

The 15 gunmen chose the police station since it is full of weapons and one of the men said the protesters demand a May 11 referendum, the same day as the one in the city of Donetsk. Many supporters rallied around the building.

A group of 150 people supporting the armed militants gathered around the police station. Many shouted “Donbass is Russia” and “Sloviansk is a Russian city.” They were hostile to journalists present, telling them to “Go back to Kyiv” and “You have no business here.” They also began to fortify the perimeter of the police station with sandbags and tires, stealing a page from the EuroMaidan Revolution tactics that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22.

There are no Ukrainian police and it is doubtful Kyiv will receive help from Sloviansk’s authorities.

The mayor of Sloviansk, Nellie Shtepa, who actively opposed the EuroMaidan Revolution, made a brief appearance at the police station. She got out of her car and said “I support you” to the militants who seized the police station. This is the same district that elected ousted Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s son, Alexei, to parliament in 2012.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov released a statement on the situation and warned people Kyiv will use force to put an end to occupations if the protesters do not solve the situation peacefully.

“The Interior Ministry warns representatives of public organizations and political parties about the unacceptability of organizing civil unrest and radical manifestations in all Ukrainian regions,” the ministry said on its Web site on Saturday. The ministry called on public and political organizations, citizens’ groups and associations across the entire political spectrum: “Stop bringing militants onto the streets, stop calling for violence and aggression, stop provoking clashes! The Interior Ministry will give a tough response to manifestations of deliberate destabilization, public order violations and mass disturbances across Ukraine, especially in the regions where special operations are under way to settle the situation and suppress manifestations of separatism: the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions. Anyone violating the law will be arrested regardless of their declared slogans and party allegiance and have their measure of responsibility established by a court,” the statement said.

Here is a video of the seizure and a few pictures from people on the scene.

Others noticed the people who seized the building are wearing the same uniforms as those “concerned citizens”in Crimea.