News / Europe

Donetsk Divided as Ukraine PM Offers More Autonomy

Donetsk Divided as Ukraine PM Offers More Autonomyi
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 12, 2014 12:28 PM
Ukraine’s prime minister has offered greater autonomy to the regions of eastern Ukraine if pro-Russian protesters disarm and leave the government headquarters in the city of Donetsk, which they have occupied since Sunday. The protesters are demanding a referendum on the area's future. Western countries accuse Russia of instigating the demonstrations. As Henry Ridgwell reports from Donetsk, the protests have divided opinion in the city.
Donetsk Divided as Ukraine PM Offers More Autonomy
Henry Ridgwell
Ukraine’s prime minister visited the restive eastern region of Donetsk on Friday, offering local leaders greater autonomy if pro-Russian protesters disarm and leave regional government headquarters, which they stormed on Sunday.

The protesters have demanded a referendum on the region’s future. Western countries accuse Russia of instigating the demonstrations, which have divided opinion in the city of Donetsk.

Pro-Russian protesters at the regional government headquarters have declared a "People’s Republic of Donetsk." They see the new government in Kyiv as illegitimate and reject its authority.
 
Among them is Nikolai Mozhayev.

He said that people have gathered here because they want to separate from the armed coup. Gangsters in Kyiv have seized power in the country, Mozhayev said, and Donetsk and southeast Ukraine want to separate from the mess.

Authorities in Kyiv gave protesters in Donetsk and other eastern cities 48 hours to disarm and leave government buildings. That deadline passed Friday and was ignored.

But Yatsenyuk adopted a conciliatory tone during his visit.

“I believe that we need to tackle this problem only in a peaceful manner. But we have made an offer." the acting prime minister said. "They are to leave the premises of the state administration building, to be disarmed, and we, as the state of Ukraine, can guarantee them that they won't be detained or arrested, but it's up to them to decide.”

So far that offer has not won over the protesters. They view events in Kyiv as nothing less than the overthrow of the government. One man, who did not want to give his name, voiced his anger.

“The people of the Donetsk region, people of Ukraine, are sick of the power that has been imposed on them from the west of Ukraine,” he said.
 
  • A pro-Russian protester whose helmet reads "Donetsk Republic," pickets a building where Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was meeting with regional leaders from eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, April 11, 2014.
  • Leaders of pro-Russian protesters hold a news briefing inside the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 11, 2014.
  • A group of pro-Russian activists warm themselves at a bonfire next to barricades in front of an entrance to the Ukrainian regional office of the Security Service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 11, 2014.
  • Motorists watch a Ukrainian military convoy pass by near the city of Donetsk, Ukraine, April 10, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian protesters set barbed wire on a barricade outside the SBU state security service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 10, 2014.
  • Masked pro-Russian activists guard barricades at the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian activist speaks to other protesters at barricades in front of a security service regional office in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • A masked man stands in front of barricades and Soviet era red and Russian national flags at an entrance to the regional office of the security service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • Communist lawmakers scuffle with right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party lawmakers during a session of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, April 8, 2014.
  • A view through a broken window of the regional administration building shows a cordon of Interior Ministry members blocking a group of pro-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 8, 2014.
  • Street cleaners sweep away bullet cases as they remove trash and a barricade erected by pro-Russian protesters near a building of the state security service in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 8, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian activists gather behind a barricade with Russian flags in front of the entrance to the regioanl security service office in Luhansk, west of the Russian border, in Ukraine, April 8, 2014.

Also on Friday, the United States imposed sanctions on seven Crimean separatists in connection with Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Among those targeted by the new Treasury Department sanctions was the former vice speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Sergei Tsekov. A U.S. statement said Tsekov facilitated the "unauthorized referendum that paved the way for Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea."

The Treasury Department also sanctioned a Crimea-based gas company, Chernomorneftegaz, that the U.S. says had its assets seized by the Crimean parliament.

Despite the dozens of Russian flags that fly above the government building, none of the protesters openly say that they want to follow the example of Crimea. That region last month voted to join Russia after pro-Russian militias took control of much of the regional government. Russian troops have taken control of Ukraine military bases there.

Outside the barricades, local businessman Eugene says he is against the protest.

"There was one revolution in Kyiv and that was enough for me.” Now, he says, there is "this second micro-revolution" here and it’s ruining the economy.

The protests in Donetsk and other eastern cities have divided the population.

Yatsenyuk did not say what would happen if the protesters reject the government's offer. So far, there is little sign that they are ready to back down and leave.

Gas

As tentions continues in the east, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow  would fulfill its obligations to European gas clients and had no plans to halt deliveries to Ukraine -- a day after warning that supplies to Europe could be disrupted by Ukraine's failure to pay its gas bills.

Putin was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying, "We guarantee fulfillment of all our obligations to our European consumers." 

His comments appeared to aimed at easing concerns in Europe, while also keeping pressure on Ukraine to pay its $2.2 billion debt for Russian gas.

The Obama administration has accused Putin of using gas as a "tool of coercion." 

Russian troops

Also Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Russia must withdraw tens of thousands of troops from the Ukrainian border and enter into sincere dialogue with the West.
An image released by NATO on April 10, 2014 that shows tanks and infantry fighting vehicle elements of the Russian Motor Rifle Regiment near Kuzminka, Russia, near Ukraine. (DigitalGlobe/NATO ACO PAO)Rasmussen saiid the alliance was not discussing military action over Ukraine, but added that it was taking steps to protect its partners effectively.

Rasmussen saiid the alliance was not discussing military action over Ukraine, but added that it was taking steps to protect its partners effectively.  NATO on Thursday released aerial photographs showing what it says are 40,000 Russian troops, along with tanks and aircraft massed near the Ukrainian border.

The photographs follow repeated Russian denials of plans to invade eastern Ukraine.

Many observers believe Putin is hoping to keep the new government in Kyiv unstable to scuttle efforts to establish closer ties to the West.

The U.S., EU, Ukraine and Russia have agreed to hold four-way talks on the crisis, scheduled to take place next Thursday in Geneva.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 11, 2014 6:06 PM
"Putin is hoping to keep the new government in Kyiv unstable to scuttle efforts to establish closer ties to the West."

This series of events is a larger power play to weaken the Russian Federation, a supplier of energy.

Energy, IS a big part of the "Game of Empires".

Crimea never got a chance to "vote" to join Ukraine, anyhow, it was the USSR's Kruschev who decreed it...

I'm glad they got the chance, finally to vote for self determination, and join Russia, after all, they are overwhelmingly Russian anyways.

In Response

by: Anonymous
April 12, 2014 11:32 AM
Yes everyone should have the opportunity to vote with armed gunmen immediately beside them and no neutral election monitors present.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid