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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs