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Kharkov mayor says radicals on their way to city, urges police to stop them

Meanwhile, people in Kharkov are organising self-defence teams to patrol the city. Each group is made up of 30-50 people

KHARKOV, March 01, /ITAR-TASS/. Radicals are on their way to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov where far-right group Right Sector activists have been forced out of the building of the regional administration, City Mayor Gennady Kernes said on Saturday, March 1.

“We have information indicating that buses with extremists are on their way here,” the mayor said at a thousand-strong rally in Freedom Square.

He urged “law enforcement agencies to do your best to keep Bendera followers away from our city.”

Kernes’ words that “there are Berkut [anti-riot police] men among us” were welcomed by an ovation. However he admitted that the police were demoralised and tens of thousands of them were tendering resignation letters. He could not say whether law enforcement could protect citizens.

Meanwhile, people in Kharkov are organising self-defence teams to patrol the city. Each group is made up of 30-50 people.

Kharkov region Governor Vasily Khoma also urged police to “stop any attempt to enter the city on the approaches to Kharkov.”

At the same time, he declined to comment on the information obtained by ITAR-TASS that Interior Troops had been used to patrol the roads around Kharkov. However, a senior police officer told ITAR-TASS after a meeting with Kernes that a plan being drawn up called for the participation of Interior Troops in ensuring law and order in the city.

The situation in Kharkov is quite tense, groups of 10 to 100 young men carrying bats and shields and wearing hard hats moving are around the city.

Earlier in the day, demonstrators attacked far-right activists who had been holding the building of the regional administration for a long time. Some of them were seized by the crowd and police had to fight to save them from lynching. Some extremists escaped.

Having forced the radicals out of the building, demonstrators raised a Russian flag on its roof. Automatic gunfire was heard during the storming and at least 10 explosions were reported inside and outside the building.

As a result of the clashes, 97 people were injured, but none of them received gunshot wounds, Deputy Mayor Svetlana Gorbunova told ITAR-TASS.