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article imagePro-Russians declare independence for Ukraine's Donetsk

By Abdul Kuddus     Apr 7, 2014 in World
Kiev - Pro-Russian armed protesters seized government buildings in three eastern cities of Ukraine, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk demanding a referendum to join Moscow, echoing the Crimean takeover by Russia.
“In Donetsk, about 120 pro-Russia activists calling themselves the Republican People's Soviet of Donetsk seized the chamber of the regional assembly,” Reuters reported.
Reportedly police managed to clear the protesters from a public building in Kharkiv, but in Luhansk demonstrators had seized weapons.
The demonstrators have set up barricades using car tires and razor wire in front of the government buildings in Donetsk to block possible assault by security forces.
“Police have blocked roads into Luhansk and armed reinforcements are being sent to the restive cities,” BBC reported.
The pro-Moscow supporters reportedly demanded Ukraine’s eastern regions hold referendums on the option to split from Ukraine and join Russia, similar to last month’s annexation of Crimea.
Donetsk is an industrial city with a population of about 1 million, dominated by Russian speakers. However, it also houses considerable Ukrainian speakers.
According to the Star, the protesters in Donetsk “asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to send peacekeeping troops to the region.”
These events raised the Ukrainian’s suspicion of a well-orchestrated Russian plan to disintegrate Ukraine.
Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk blamed Russia of backing the separatist in seizing the government buildings.
He said “the violent demonstrations are clearly part of a plan to destabilize the situation and allow foreign troops to cross the border and seize Ukrainian territory,” Voice of America reported.
"A script has been written in the Russian Federation to divide and destroy Ukraine and turn part of Ukraine into a slave territory under the dictatorship of Russia,'' Yatsenyuk added.
Following the ouster of Ukraine’s former President Victor Yanukovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his right to militarily intervene in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers, raising the spectre of a repeat cold war between the West and Moscow.
Putin annexed Crimea following a referendum and deployed troops on the frontiers bordering Ukrainian cities.
After Crimea’s secession referendum, similar echoes of separation began to spread in other eastern cities of Ukraine dominated by Russian speakers, especially Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Lugansk.
Ukraine failed to organize any form of resistance to the Crimean takeover. In a quick March 16 referendum, Crimeans voted to join Russia which instantly annexed the region.
In response, the United States and the European Union slapped financial sanctions against Russia warning tougher sanctions should Russian troops enter other cities in Ukraine.
Russia too punished Ukraine by influencing state owned Gazprom to double the price of gas in Ukrainian cities.
While intermittent pro-Russian demonstrations continued to take place after Crimea’s annexation, these did not have the same intensity as the one seen on Sunday.
The fresh secessionist crisis and subsequent appeal by pro-Russians for Russian military help puts Ukraine in danger of disintegration and signals more pressure on Western powers to act.
The presence of Russian troops on the EU’s eastern frontiers further proves Moscow’s designs to destabilize Ukraine.
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