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Ukraine PM: Russia Backed Sunday's Unrest in the East

Ukraine's prime minister has accused Russia of backing separatist demonstrations, including the seizure of government buildings Sunday in three eastern Ukrainian cities.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a Cabinet meeting Monday that Russia is behind the unrest that rose up in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. He said the demonstrations are clearly part of a plan to destabilize the situation and allow "foreign" troops to cross the border and seize Ukrainian territory.

Mr. Yatsenyuk said Russian troops remain stationed within 30 kilometers of Ukraine.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchnyov, also blamed Russia for Sunday's demonstrations and accused it of "playing out the Crimean scenario." He vowed anti-terrorist measures will be carried out.

Protesters in Donetsk who have seized control of the main administration building announced the creation of a sovereign "people's republic" independent of Kyiv. The pro-Russia demonstrators have erected a barricade of tires and barbed wire to keep security forces from retaking the structure.

The Donetsk protesters said a referendum on creating an independent "Donetsk people's republic" would be held no later than May 11.

An unidentified protester inside the government building in Donetsk posted a video online asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to send "peacekeeping troops" to the region.

In Luhansk, pro-Russia activists are reported to have seized facilities where weapons are stored. Ukrainian highway police have closed off roads into the city.

And in an eastern Crimea military dormitory, a Russian soldier shot dead a Ukrainian naval officer during an argument, as the Ukrainian was packing his belongings to leave the region.



Protesters broke into a government building in another eastern city, Kharkiv, on Sunday, but interior minister Arsen Avakov later said those protesters had been cleared from the premises. Like Ukraine's prime minister and president, he, too, blamed Russia for the unrest.

The protesters in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv demanded the cities hold referendums on whether to split with Ukraine and become part of Russia, the same kind of referendum held last month in Crimea.

Ukrainians have been split between those loyal to the Kyiv government and those calling for stronger ties to Russia, following Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula last month.

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