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KIEV, April 15. /ITAR-TASS/. A convoy of armored vehicles of Kiev-controlled military units has entered the city of Sloviansk in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk Oblast. Local media report the convoy contains 500 servicemen, 20 armored personnel carriers (APCs), buses and other vehicles.
Sloviansk has been reportedly surrounded by Kiev-controlled forces that have armored vehicles at their disposal, the city’s acting mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the commander of the self-defense battalion, told ITAR-TASS.
Kiev-appointed Sloviansk mayor Nelli Shtepa, dismissed by a transitional self-government body, gave an interview to Kiev media on Tuesday morning. She claimed that looters were terrorizing the city and that there is chaos. Ponomaryov said Shtepa deliberately spreads disinformation and that she betrays her own city — she fled Sloviansk the day before.
“There is order in the city. Yesterday we returned armed police to the streets,” Ponomaryov said.
The past day in Sloviansk was calm. No cases of riots or looting have been registered since the start of protests of federalization supporters.
Most shops, clinics and a hospital work in line with ordinary schedule. Classes in schools and kindergartens have however been suspended. Sloviansk residents move around the city easily, public transport keeps working, with some restrictions introduced for private cars entering the city center.
Protests against the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, who came to power as a result of a coup in February, have erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern territories, in particular, the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, with demonstrators demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.
The events came after the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, reunified with Russia on March 18 following a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.