Around 100 pro-Russian protesters stormed the regional government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Sunday and hung up a Russian flag in defiance of Kiev’s pro-European government.
Dozens of protesters also stormed the offices of the state security service in nearby Luhansk and three people were injured, two protesters and a police officer, a Ukrainian television channel reported.
Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk, the hometown of pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych, has seen a sharp rise in tensions since his ouster and the installation of a pro-European government in Kiev. Branding the new Kiev government illegitimate, Russia has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region citing threats to its Russian-speaking majority.
More than 1,000 people protested in a main square in Donetsk, an industrial city, before breaking into the regional administrative building where they hung a Russian flag from a second floor balcony, a Reuters witness said.
The protesters outside cheered and chanted “Russia!”.
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“Around 1,000 people took part, mostly young people with their faces covered,” said a spokesman for Donetsk local police. “Around 100 people are now inside the building and are barricading the building.”
The protesters inside the building used chairs, tables and metal railings to barricade the entrances, the Reuters witness said, while hundreds of police stood by.
Ukrainian television showed images of hundreds of people outside the state security services building in Luhansk and a policeman in riot armour being carried away on a stretcher.