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Ukraine's interim president convenes Security Council over unrests in southeast

April 12, 2014, 21:36 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, April 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s parliament-appointed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov will convene the National Security and Defense Council on Saturday, April 12, to discuss the situation in the country’s southeast swept by public unrests.

The meeting is scheduled for 21:00 local time, the One Plus One television channel said.

Protesters against the new Kiev authorities have seized administrative buildings in at least four district capitals of the southeastern Donetsk region. Local police refused to obey Kiev’s orders to storm the buildings.

Several dozen people formed a living shield in front of the gates to one of the Interior Ministry units in Donetsk to prevent the troops from going to Sloviansk and Krasnyi Lyman where protesters had seized several administrative buildings.

Demonstrators have seized police stations, Security Service offices or district administration buildings in Sloviansk, Krasnyi Lyman, Krasnoarmeisk, and Druzhkivka, all in the southeast of Ukraine.

In Krasnyi Lyman, unidentified persons seized the district police station, local media reported. “About 20 people entered the station which had been surrounded by Afghan war veterans and Cossacks,” reports said.

In the city of Kramatorsk, police special task force personnel pinned St. George ribbons to their uniform as a sign of solidarity with the protesters. In Sloviansk, police commandos sided with the protesters.

Sloviansk Mayor Nelya Shtepa also supported the demonstrators. “They are demanding a referendum. We all agree with that and I cannot argue with them,” local media quoted her as saying.

Shtepa said the whole city “has become a shield to protect them” and stressed that if the Kiev authorities “try to suppress the rebellion, a large number of civilians will get killed”. “This must not be allowed to happen,” she stressed.

She said the administrative buildings had been seized by members of the Donbass people’s militia who are protesting against the new authorities in Kiev.

The protesters are building barricades with car tires, wooden boards and sacks with sand. They said they had been forced to do so by parliament-appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s threats to use “strong measures” against those who had seized the buildings in Sloviansk.

Local residents were reported to be streaming in to support the protesters. They have set up a roadblock on the exit from Sloviansk to prevent militants from the far-right group Right Sector, sent by Kiev to suppress the protests, from infiltrating the city.

Several thousand people rallied in Luhansk in front of the regional office of the Security Service of Ukraine, which had been under the control of protesters since April 7. The demonstrators were demanding a referendum on federalisation and said they would continue the protest.

About 1,000 people gathered in front of the regional Interior Affairs Department in Donetsk to demand that police “side with the people”.

Several activists later met with regional police chief Konstantin Pozhidayev. Demonstrators said after the meeting that some of the law enforcers, including special task force members, were “already with the people” and demanded Pozhidayev’s resignation.

Pozhidayev did not respond to the demands, his whereabouts is not known. Andrei Anosov, head of the regional investigative department, has taken over Pozhidayev’s functions. Anosov addressed the protesters and promised that “the interior department will work as usual” and “in support of the people”.

The demonstrators were demanding a referendum and protesting against Kiev’s actions. Groups of activists headed to Sloviansk to support the demonstrators there.

Meanwhile, parliament-appointed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov dismissed Donetsk region Security Service chief Valery Ivanov after members of the people’s militia had seized several administrative buildings in Donetsk and the region, including police stations and Security Service offices.

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