World News

Pro-Russia Demonstrators Defy Ukraine's Ultimatum

Pro-Russia demonstrators Monday defied a government deadline for protesters to vacate occupied buildings in exchange for amnesty, as Ukraine's president threatened a military crackdown.

Dozens of protesters smashed windows of the police headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka and scuffled with police as they took control of the facility. Video of the confrontation showed an ambulance where injured people were being treated.

The pro-Russian demonstrators, sheltering behind barricades in the occupied buildings, are demanding a referendum on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia - similar to last month's vote in Crimea.

Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday threatened to launch what he called a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" against those who have taken over the buildings. The president's office said that in a telephone conversation with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Turchynov said Ukraine would welcome the help of the U.N. in such an operation.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Turchynov said he is not against a national referendum on what kind of country Ukraine should be. He said he is certain a majority would support a united and independent Ukraine, possibly giving broader localized rights to the east. He said such a vote could be held at the same time as the May 25 presidential election.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday he believes Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country should be part of drafting a new constitution.



Mr. Turchynov has promised amnesty for those who give up their weapons and come out peacefully. But he says he will not let Russia take over eastern Ukraine the way it annexed Crimea.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told VOA's Russian service that his greatest fear for the region is that the conflict devolves into greater violence, which the United States does not want.



"You have people in cities across eastern Ukraine, some of them heavily armed with Russian weapons including state-of-the art sniper rifles, Russian inventory automatic machine guns with grenade launchers. These are not peaceful protesters, this is an armed force. And I think there is a real risk that their actions could precipitate greater violence and any bloodshed of course is something that the United States will oppose."



In Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers threatened Russia with more sanctions, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague warning of consequences for Moscow's behavior in Ukraine.

Russia also came under heavy criticism during an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council Sunday night. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power accused the Russians of "writing and choreographing" the violence in Ukraine.

Top diplomats from Russia, the United States, Ukraine and the European Union are set to hold emergency talks on the crisis April 17 in Geneva. White House officials say U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Kyiv April 22.

On Monday in Washington, the U.S. officials signed a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the agreement demonstrates the United States' unwavering commitment to see a stable Ukraine. Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said his country is wrapping up talks with the IMF on a comprehensive economic reform program.

Also Monday, the Pentagon confirmed that a Russian SU-24 fighter aircraft flew at least 12 close-range passes of a U.S. ship in the Black Sea on Saturday. A Pentagon spokesman said the USS Donald Cook was never in danger but called the passes "provocative and unprofessional." U.S. defense officials said the action is part of a pattern of Russia's unwillingness to deescalate with Ukraine.

###

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs