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Ukraine tries to downplay report of law enforcers siding with people

KIEV, April 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday tried to play down a report of its high-ranking representative that law enforcement officers refused to take part in a special operation against federalization supporters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

“The report was the result of a misunderstanding during a briefing in Kiev of the head of the Ukrainian armed forces main command center and may only be regarded as a comment,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Ukrainian media reported, citing Major General Alexander Rozmaznin, the head of the Ukrainian armed forces main command center, that law enforcement officers in Donetsk refused to cooperate with the Ukrainian military and take part in the special operation apparently aimed to crack down on pro-federalization protesters.

“We don’t feel cooperation on the part of Donetsk Region police. I am not authorized to comment on this, but the fact is the fact: they don’t assist us when our units are in some regions,” he said.

In early April, Ukrainian special unit Alfa’s commanders refused to obey the Kiev authorities’ orders to storm administrative buildings in Donetsk.

The situation in Ukraine is unstable after a coup occurred in the country in February. Amid riots in February 2014, new people were brought to power in Kiev, whom Russia does not recognize as Ukraine's legitimate leaders.

The crisis deepened when Crimea, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the de facto Ukrainian authorities. Crimea reunified with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which it overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

After the reunification, which Kiev and Western countries do not accept despite Russia’s repeated statements that the Crimean plebiscite was in line with the international law, protests against the new Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories, with demonstrators taking control of some government buildings and demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.

Ukrainian parliament-appointed acting president Alexander Turchinov on April 15 announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in the Donetsk Region, apparently aimed to crack down on pro-federalization protesters.