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About 7,000 people attend rally and march for broader autonomy in Kharkov

March 08, 2014, 23:47 UTC+3 KHARKOV
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KHARKOV, March 08, /ITAR-TASS/. About 7,000 people attended a rally and a march in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov on Saturday, March 8, demanding the resignation of the new authorities in Kiev and calling for a referendum.

They demanded that the Kharkov region be given the status of autonomy and that Russian be made the second official language. The demonstrators also protested against the appointment by Kiev of Igor Baluta as the new governor of the Kharkov region.

The events took place in Kharkov’s central Svoboda (Freedom) Square. Several hundred policemen and Interior Troops were posted around the building of the regional administration although the demonstrators said they would not try to storm the building and stressed that “unlike the Kiev protesters we have no weapons: either sticks or Molotov cocktails.”

About 2,000 people headed to the building of the City Council and staged a picket in front of it.

All central streets were cordoned off. The demonstrators chanted “Russia, help!” Extra police units were brought into the area. No incidents were registered and there were only squabbles with passers-by. Police escorted the columns but did not interfere.

The manifesto adopted by the demonstrator says that the referendum should be held on March 16 and elections of the mayor and local deputies on March 30.

The demonstrators expressed solidarity with other Ukrainian regions - Donbass and Sevastopol, and demanded “an immediate release of the people’s governor in the Donetsk region.”

They also criticised the United States and the European Union, including over their financial aid, which they described as “slavery.”

The demonstrators came close to the police lines and some of them lined up in front of the law enforcers who were blocking access to the building of the regional administration. They urged the policemen to “be with people” and “put down the shields and take off the helmets.”

In another eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a rally in front of the building of the regional administration in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk ended peacefully, without attempts by demonstrators to storm the building.

Earlier, about 1,000 supporters of “people’s governor” Pavel Gubarev had come to the square, demanding his release. They carried Russian flags.

The building is heavily guarded, with several hundred policemen posted around it.

A three-thousand strong rally took place in parallel in Donetsk’s Lenin Square. Its participants held symbols of the Ukrainian Communist Party, the Russian Block party and Eastern Front movement. They demanded, among other things, a local referendum on the status of their region.

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