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KIEV, February 19. /TASS/. Participants in a rally in front of the building of the Ukrainian president’s administration in central Kiev, who demand the authorities support the blockade of coal supplies from Donbass areas that are not controlled by Kiev, are putting up tents saying they are staying there for the night.
"One tent has already been put. One more tent is to be pitched. They are planning to stay here and insist on their terms," a correspondent of the 112.Ukraina television channel reported from the site.
Initially, about a thousand of people gathered in Kiev’s central Independence Square, known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or simply Maidan, to honor the memory of those killed here in riots three years ago. Among those who came to the Maidan on Sunday were activists of the so-called volunteer battalions, or paramilitary groups, that organized blockade of coal supllies from Donbass on January 25.
The protesters are holding yellow-and-blue and red-and-black flags. The police have reported no serious violations of public order.
The blockade was imposed on January 25 by former militants from the so-called ‘volunteer battalions’ with support from the right-wing radical members of the Verkhovna Rada national parliament. Specifically, the radicals are blocking railway lines, by which anthracite coal is hauled to the thermal and thermos-electric plants from the mighty coalmines located in the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
The radicals claim that the blockade is necessary to plug the channels for an inflow of contraband commodities allegedly trickling into Ukraine alongside with coal.
Ukraine’s Security Service opened a criminal case over the blockade, saying the radicals’ actions are illegal.
Meanwhile, coal shortages forced the Ukrainian government to impose a state of emergency in the country’s energy sector for a month starting from February 16. A number of major industrial enterprises in Donbass have suspended operation, some are about to be completely halted.