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Federalization supporters occupy police station in eastern Ukraine

DONETSK, May 02, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian pro-federalization activists on Thursday evening occupied a police station in the city of Krasnoarmeysk in east Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, a deputy city police chief, Yury Shmykhlenko, said.

Shmykhlenko told Itar-Tass that at least 200 Donbas militia representatives came to the station unarmed.

“I don’t see anyone injured either on the part of police officers or on the part of other citizens,” he said, adding that windows and doors in the building have been broken but “there have been no shootouts”.

“I am currently trying to calm down the situation to prevent looting,” Shmykhlenko said.

At the same time, Alexander Oladin, the chairman of the Russian Bloc party’s organization in the city, said there was no one in the police station building except for an officer on duty.

“We did not break doors open, we pulled out the window bars and came in through the windows, then opened the door. We took one person, one assault rifle and that’s all. There’s no one in the three-story building, it’s empty,” he told an Itar-Tass correspondent.

Federalization supporters told Itar-Tass that in that way they tried to clarify the fate of 11 militiamen abducted the previous night when Ukrainian police stormed a checkpoint at the entry to Krasnoarmeysk. One militiaman was able to escape. He said the “Donetsk detachment of the Right Sector [far-right ultranationalist group]" was behind the seizure of the checkpoint.

A spokesman for the proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Alexander Maltsev, told Itar-Tass that “DPR activists" at the checkpoint "were shot at, put in a van and moved in the direction of Novopodgorodnyaya”. He added that in response, “people self-organized without arms” and headed to the police station inside coalminers buses.

According to an Itar-Tass correspondent, the situation is currently calm near the checkpoint, where a few cars without license plates are parked.

Ukraine saw a coup in February, with new people propelled to power amid deadly riots as security concerns prompted President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the country.

Crimea, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16 in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The reunification deal with Russia was struck on March 18.

Kiev and Western nations do not recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia despite Moscow's repeated statements that the Crimean plebiscite conformed to the international law and the UN Charter and was in line with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008.

After Crimea's accession to Russia, protests against the new Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions, with demonstrators, who are demanding referendums on the country’s federalization, seizing some government buildings.

Ukrainian parliament-appointed interim head of state Alexander Turchinov on April 15 announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has condemned the operation, which is apparently aimed to crack down on federalization supporters.