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Third helicopter downed over east Ukraine’s Sloviansk, crew’s fate unclear

May 02, 2014, 10:47 UTC+3 SLAVYANSK

The city defenders have earlier hit two Ukrainian helicopters

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© ITAR-TASS/Michael Pochuev

SLOVIANSK, May 02. /ITAR-TASS/. A third Ukrainian helicopter Mil Mi-24 was downed at a checkpoint in the east Ukrainian city of Sloviansk that resulted in a literal explosion of the chopper, the fate of its crew is unclear, TV news channel Rossiya-24 reported on Friday.

The city defenders have earlier hit two Ukrainian helicopters, crew’s fate unclear, “One helicopter is Mil Mi-24 and the second one is most likely Mi-8; one pilot was killed and another one was taken to hospital,” a representative of Sloviansk police  told ITAR-TASS earlier in the day.


Full-scale sweep operation in Sloviansk

Earlier, the representative said the Ukrainian authorities were conducting a full-scale sweep operation in Sloviansk, using aircraft and landing troops against civilians. The operation “started at 5 a.m., as they (Kiev leaders) pledged”.

“Armored vehicles are securing the assault by landing troops,” the policeman said. He said he is at a checkpoint in the city center.

Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February, erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions in March after Crimea's incorporation by Russia. Demonstrators, who are demanding referendums on the country’s federalization, seized some government buildings.

The Kiev authorities have been conducting an antiterrorism operation in eastern Ukraine. Russia, which does not recognize the de facto Ukrainian leaders brought to power by the coup, has condemned the operation, apparently aimed to crack down on Ukrainian nationals supporting federalization.

Crimea's urge to reunify with Russia was caused by the republic's refusal to accept the new Kiev authorities. In a March 16 referendum, Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and accede to Russia. The reunification deal with Moscow was signed March 18.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.


Developments in south-eastern Ukraine

Clashes between police and federalization supporters began near the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk May 1. Law enforcement officers lined up with shields before the building amid stones and smoke grenades thrown at them. Earlier, the supporters of proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic stated that the prosecutor’s office backs Kiev authorities and expressed their intention to voice protest.

Thousands of people in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa marched through its central streets on Thursday, May 1, carrying placards that read “Odessa Is a Hero City”, “Referendum” and “Fascism Won’t Pass”.


'Kiev’s intention to hold a nationwide poll May 25 a sham'

Kiev’s intention to hold a nationwide poll on May 25 is a sham, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Moscow is seriously worried by media reports about the Kiev regime’s plans to carry out a special assault operation in the south-eastern regions of the country using ultra-nationalist Right Sector units Russia's Foreign Ministry “We have noted statements by ‘acting prime minister of Ukraine’ Arseniy Yatsenyuk who said that on May 25, 2014 there should be a certain nationwide poll that will be related, in particular, to the ‘decentralization of power,’” the commentary says. “He also said that the Ukrainian Cabinet had approved ‘its vision of the regional reform’. It is separately stated that the country’s government ‘is ready to give additional guarantees on the corresponding territory to Russian-speaking population and other national minorities’. However, what kind of ‘additional guarantees’ is meant, was not specified.”

“Instead of launching an extensive nationwide discussion in the country to seek for ways out of the deep political and socio-economic crisis that would involve all political forces and all regions, the Kiev authorities are engaged in staging sham actions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed. “This will lead nowhere except to a further aggravation of the crisis in the country,” the ministry noted.


Russia's Foreign ministry position

Kiev’s plans to carry out a special assault operation in the South-East of Ukraine will lead to a catastrophe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, May 1.

“Moscow is seriously worried by media reports about the Kiev regime’s plans to carry out a special assault operation in the south-eastern regions of the country using ultra-nationalist Right Sector units,” the ministry said.

“Such irresponsible and aggressive actions by the present ‘Ukrainian government’ can have catastrophic consequences if implemented,” the ministry warned. “Punitive measures against their own people would indicate the inability of the Kiev leadership to fulfill its obligations assumed under the Geneva Statement of April 17 to stop all violence as soon as possible and launch a broad national dialogue with all regions and political forces.”


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