KHARKOV, March 02, /ITAR-TASS/. Political standoff that lasted almost a week in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov reached its peak and resulted in sharp deterioration of the situation.
Declared as “a peaceful” rally “in protection of the city” that gathered from 10 thousand to 15 thousand people grew in bloody clashes that wounded 111people.
Someone can hardly call the exact reason that instigated protesters to engage in clashes with radical elements of ultra-nationalistic Right Sector that picketed the building housing regional authorities. At first stones and sticks were hurled from both sides, but then gunshots, including those from assault rifles, were heard. Blasts went off in the administrative building. Demonstrators were catching radical elements who tried to run away from the administrative building. Many radical activists were led out from the building and brought to the centre of the square for the lynch trial, but police could have averted massacres with difficulties.
At the same time Kharkov residents started forming units of militiamen that decided to patrol the city. Groups of 30-50 young people were seen in the city streets with clubs until late evening on Saturday.
Traffic was completely disrupted in central Kharkov, metro exits on the central square were closed. The situation has almost stabilised by the evening. The local airport operates in routine mode, flights including those from and to Moscow are made according to schedule, Itar-Tass learnt in the airport’s information service.
Meanwhile, a tense atmosphere reigns in the city. Many people are afraid that radical activists may come to Kharkov from other Ukrainian cities. Kharkov Mayor Gennady Kernes also confirmed that “there is information about buses with extremists.” At the same time he demanded that law enforcement agencies should do their best to prevent Bandera extremists from entering the city.”
Now the law enforcement agencies are in full control of the building housing regional authorities. Around 20 policemen in helmets and with shields are on guard at the building entrance, admission is only by specific identity certificates and media people are also permitted to enter the building.
One hundred policemen and another 50 people in mufti, including local state officials, are on duty near the building.
First two floors are looking like a true battlefield with broken furniture scattered all around and a lot of water as radical extremists used fire plugs for protection. Blood stains are on the floor, there are torn clothes everywhere and holes looking like traces of bullets are seen in the walls. Almost all windows are broken on two floors, many doors are removed.