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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora