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article image10,000 turn out to mark east Ukraine rebellion anniversary

By AFP     Apr 9, 2016 in World

Around 10,000 people paraded through the centre of Donetsk, the rebel "capital" in eastern Ukraine, to mark the second anniversary of the proclamation of the "Donetsk People's Republic".

The participants marched through the main streets of the town, waving flags in the colours of the DNR rebel republic accompanied by a joyful fanfare of old Soviet Union anthems.

The marchers, with uniformed men bringing up the rear, finished up in the main square where a concert was organised.

Ties between Moscow and Kiev are in tatters over Crimea's annexation and Russia's support for the insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The conflict has killed more than 9,000 since April 2014 and left the rebels in control of a region roughly the size and population of Wales.

One of those who turned out for Saturday's celebration in Donetsk, a 22-year-old named Vladislav, said the event signified "that the people have chosen their path. Together with Russia and separately from Ukraine."

The Donetsk People's Republic was declared on April 7, 2014, the day after pro-Russian separatist fighters attacked the regional headquarters in Donetsk.

People celebrate the second anniversary of the proclamation of the so called People's Republic ...
People celebrate the second anniversary of the proclamation of the so called People's Republic of Donetsk on April 9, 2016
Aleksey Filippov, AFP

On the same day the headquarters of the secret service in the neighbouring pro-Moscow region of Lugansk was occupied by rebels.

Fighting between the Ukraine army and the rebels has lessened since a fragile truce was agreed last September.

However violence continues to flare up and land mines remain a constant threat.

Peace talks have been on hold for several months with Kiev and Western nations accusing Russia of supporting the rebellion militarily, a claim denied by Moscow.

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