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KIEV, April 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Armed patrols of local residents have been formed in 19 Ukrainian regions, Stanislav Rechinsky, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said Tuesday.
“The units have been formed solely from local dwellers not to incite inter-regional feud. They will serve jointly with police and will be armed with automatic weapons,” Rechinsky said.
Candidates for patrols should be aged 18-50 and prove that they have no convictions, as well as undergo a medical examination.
New people were brought to power in Ukraine as a result of a coup in February. President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave the country citing security concerns.
The Ukrainian parliament then appointed its speaker, Alexander Turchinov, as acting president and approved a new government. The Verkhovna Rada also set early presidential elections for May 25.
The Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian leadership. It held a referendum on March 16, in which an overwhelming majority voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Crimea and Russia signed a reunification agreement two days later.
Protests against the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities have erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories, in particular, the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions, with demonstrators taking control of some regional government buildings and demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.
Parliament-appointed acting head of state Turchinov on Tuesday announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in the Donetsk Region in an apparent effort to put an end to protests of federalization supporters.