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DONETSK, May 10, 4:34 /ITAR-TASS/. Yury Khotlubei, the mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, remains in the city and continues carrying out his duties, the press service of the City Council said in a statement on Saturday.
One of the Ukrainian television channels reported earlier that Khotlubei allegedly fled the city, which was hit by deadly violence on Friday.
“Yury Khotlubei did not leave the city and stays constantly in Mariupol,” the statement said. “He keeps under personal control all works on the restoration of power supplies in the central part of the city and on the resumption of the public transportation service as well as coordinates efforts to prevent pillaging and looting in the city.”
Deadly violence erupted in Mariupol on Friday after Ukrainian law enforcers reportedly attacked participants in the Victory Day rally as they gathered in front of the local police department building in an attempt to prevent its seizure by law enforcers.
Russia’s Rossiya-24 television channel reported that Ukraine’s law enforcers, who are conducting the so-called “counter-terrorist operation” in Mariupol, used armored vehicles against civilians on May 9.
Data on the number of victims in Mariupol’s violence varies. Rossiya-24 reported citing the press service of the Donetsk region administration that three were killed and 25 wounded, while the Ukrainian Interior Ministry stated that about 20 protesters and one policeman were killed and five more people were wounded.
Vitaly Ivanov, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in an interview with Itar-Tass that 20 civilians had been wounded and ten killed after armored vehicles opened fire.
According to Ivanov, Ukrainian law enforcers opened gunfire on policemen inside the building. Eyewitnesses said the building was first riddled with bullets and then set on fire.
Ivanov added that in a separate development of events Ukrainian law enforcers also set ablaze the building of the Mariupol City Council.
Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev as a result of a coup in February, erupted in the country’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories after Crimea’s merger with Russia on March 18.
Southeastern Ukrainian protesters, who seek the country’s federalization and demand broader powers for their regions, have seized some of the government buildings in the region.
The Kiev authorities launched the so-called “antiterrorism operation” in eastern Ukraine. Russia, which does not recognize the de facto Ukrainian leaders, had condemned the operation, apparently aimed to crack down on Ukrainian federalization supporters.