News / Europe

    Tensions, Violence Continue to Rise in Eastern Ukraine

    Tensions, Violence Continue to Rise in Eastern Ukrainei
    X
    April 28, 2014 11:53 PM
    In eastern Ukraine Monday, pro-Russia separatists seized another government building, this one in the town of Kostyantynivka. Meanwhile, the mayor of the city of Kharkiv is fighting for his life after being shot. VOA's Brian Padden has more from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
    Related report from Brian Padden in Donetsk, Ukraine.
    VOA News
    Pro-Russia separatists armed with baseball bats attacked a rally in support of Ukrainian unity in the eastern city of Donetsk on Monday.

    A number of people sustained injuries, many of them head wounds after dozens of men dressed in military fatigues tried to disrupt the rally with baseball bats, firecrackers and what appeared to be at least one stun grenade.

    Protesters, estimated at about 2,000, waved Ukrainian flags and chanted “Donetsk is Ukraine!” and “Putin No!”. They quickly dispersed after the violence.
    Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donesk, UkraineKharkiv, Luhansk, Donesk, Ukraine
    x
    Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donesk, Ukraine
    Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donesk, Ukraine


    In another eastern city, Luhansk, near the Russian border, crowds cheered as one group of activists declared the area an independent state. One of the leaders of the self-proclaimed "Luhansk People's Republic" called on Russia to help it defend its sovereignty.

    Earlier on Monday, pro-Russia militants also took another town, seizing the police headquarters and municipal administration building in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region.

    About 20 well-organized gunmen were seen controlling the administration building. They erected a barricade of tires, sandbags and concrete blocks.

    Soviet songs played over loudspeakers as women gathered the signatures of people supporting an uprising for independence and possible rule from Moscow.

    Mayor shot

    The mayor of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, was in a serious condition on Monday after being shot in the back while riding his bicycle, in the latest violence to strike the eastern part of the country.

    Hennady Kernes, 54, traditionally aligned with Russia, was riding along the route he takes almost every day when he was shot, probably by someone hidden in nearby woods, said Iryna Kushchenko, spokeswoman for the local government.

    His bodyguards were following in a car but were not close enough to intervene, she said.

    The Interior Ministry said Kernes had been taken to the city's hospital for emergency treatment.

    FILE - Mayor of Kharkiv Gennady KernesFILE - Mayor of Kharkiv Gennady Kernes
    x
    FILE - Mayor of Kharkiv Gennady Kernes
    FILE - Mayor of Kharkiv Gennady Kernes
    “Doctors assess his condition as serious,” the ministry said in a statement.

    Kernes was accused by Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders two months ago of promoting separatism when pro-Russian protesters took control of local administrative buildings. He has since softened his stance.

    Ukraine's deputy interior minister, Serhiy Yarovy, said investigators are even looking into whether the shooting was in retaliation for the detention in Kharkiv of 13 pro-Russian separatists on Sunday on charges of possession of Molotov cocktails, explosives and nails.

    Ukrainian forces evicted pro-Russia activists this month, making Kharkiv the only major eastern city to have taken back control from armed protesters who have demanded a referendum on independence for most of eastern Ukraine.

    New US, EU sanctions

    President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on Monday against Russia for its involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.

    The measures are in response to “Russia’s continued illegal intervention in Ukraine and provocative acts that undermine Ukraine’s democracy and threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” said a White House statement, adding that Moscow's involvement in eastern Ukraine violence "is indisputable."
    New U.S. Sanctions Against Russia

    Department of Treasury sanctions:
     
    • 7 Russian government officials, two of them members of Pres. Putin’s inner circle, subject to asset freeze and U.S. visa ban
    • 17 companies, linked to Putin’s inner circle, subject to asset freeze
    Department of Commerce sanctions:
     
    • 13 of the 17 companies will have additional restrictions including:
    • License requirement, with a presumption of denial, for the export, re-export or other foreign transfer of U.S.-origin items
    • Tightened policy will deny export license applications for any high-technology items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities
    • Revoke any existing export licenses that meet these conditions
       
    (Source: White House statement released April 28)


    The White House said the targeted sanctions are aimed at a number of individuals and entities and will restrict licenses for certain U.S. exports to Russia.

    "The Department of the Treasury is imposing sanctions on seven Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin’s inner circle, who will be subject to an asset freeze and a U.S. visa ban, and 17 companies linked to Putin’s inner circle, which will be subject to an asset freeze," the statement said. 

    A senior Russian diplomat decisively condemned the new round of U.S. sanctions. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on the ministry's website that the sanctions marked a return to "Cold War" practices.

    Separately, the European Union imposed asset freezes and visa bans on 15 more Russians and Ukrainians on Monday.

    The decision brings to 48 the number of people that the EU has put under sanctions for, it says, helping undermine Ukraine's territorial integrity.

    The names of those to be added to the list will not be made public until they are published in the EU's Official Journal on Tuesday.

    Russian, US Defense Chiefs Talk

    Also on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Russian Defense Minster Sergei Shoigu held a "candid" hour-long telephone conversation.

    Hagel repeated his call for an end to Russia's destabilizing influence inside Ukraine and warned that continued aggression would further isolate Russia and result in more diplomatic and economic pressure. 

    Russia's defense minister expressed concern about what he called an unprecedented increase in U.S. and NATO military activity near Russia's borders and urged Hagel to help "turn down the rhetoric" over the Ukraine crisis.

    Shoigu told Hagel that Russian forces, which had further alarmed the West by starting drills near the border last week after Ukraine launched an operation against the separatists, had since returned to their permanent positions, the ministry said.

    But it gave no indication of whether the overall number of Russian troops deployed near the Ukrainian border, which NATO has put at about 40,000, along with tanks, aircraft and other equipment, had been reduced.

    During the conversation Hagel went on to ask Shoigu for Russia's assistance in securing the release of the seven inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) currently being held in eastern Ukraine.  

    OSCE monitors

    Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the detention of the OSCE observers, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    The ministry gave no further details of the call, which it said was a German initiative.

    Germany urged Moscow to use its influence on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to secure the release of observers who are being held in the city of Slovyansk. 
     
    • Self-defense volunteers stand at the barricade of their tent camp as Ukrainian nationalists attempt to walk into the square in Kyiv, April 29, 2014.
    • With their faces covered and carrying burning torches, Ukrainian nationalists attempt to march to Kyiv's Independence Square to honor the protesters who were killed in February clashes with police, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists wait outside the regional police headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Ukrainian government troops guard a checkpoint near the village of Dolina, 30 kilometers from Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists are seen inside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists attack the regional administration building in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian supporters gather outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian supporters gather opposite Ukrainian Interior Ministry members standing in formation outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Seen through a car window, Ukrainian government troops stand behind a camouflage net as they guard a checkpoint near the village of Dolina, 30 kilometers from Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian armed man hands his weapon to a boy posing for a picture for his father in front of the seized town administration building in Kostyantynivka, April 28, 2014.

    The OSCE monitors appeared in public with armed rebels watching Sunday to give assurances they are not being mistreated. The leader of the monitors, German Colonel Axel Schneider, assured reporters in Slovyansk they were in good health.

    The insurgents called the military observers "prisoners of war."

    The OSCE sent a team of negotiators to eastern Ukraine to meet with the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, about freeing the military monitors. One, a Swede who is diabetic, was freed for medical reasons but four Germans, a Czech, a Dane and a Pole are still being held.

    The rebels also displayed three bloodied and blindfolded officers from Ukraine's security service that they captured. The officers were shown with heads bowed, stripped of their pants and shoes.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned the seizure of the OSCE monitors and Ukrainians captured with them, demanding their immediate release, according to a statement by his office.

    Ukraine reports losses

    Ukraine has lost at least $80 billion since Russia annexed its southern Crimea region and the price tag, Kyiv says, will be much higher when the calculation includes lost profits and the value of possible energy reserves in the Black Sea.

    Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko said Kyiv would press its case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights and could take individuals to court for military crimes and those against its territorial integrity.

    “Any state property located on the territory of Crimea is the property of Ukraine and Russia bears the full liability for the losses incurred by state companies, ministries and departments,” Petrenko told a news conference.

    “These losses do not include lost profits and the value of minerals,” added Petrenko.

    Analysts estimate the value of such energy reserves, seen at 165.3 billion cubic meters of gas and 44 million tons of oil, at around $800 million to $1.2 billion.

    Some reporting by Reuters
     

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    April 28, 2014 5:57 PM
    Russia has told the whole-wide world it will do only (2) things on dealing with the Ukraine crisis - (AND THEY ARE?) - (1). Russia will intervene (for humanitarian reasons) with it's military, If the Ukraine government uses military force against the Russian speaking Ukrainian people - (AND?) -- (2). as the whole-wide world knows, "You don't negotiate with terrorist" _ and Russia considers the pro-western neo-Nazi, Right Sector, ultra-right wing extremists who seized the Ukraine government by force, as being terrorists... (Russia won't negotiate with them)...
    NOW, why can't the US and EU understand what the whole-wide world already knows, (You don't negotiate with terrorists), and for (humanitarian reasons), Russia will protect the Russian speaking Ukrainian people if the government uses it's military against them? --
    (WHY expect Russia to do anything more?) -- It's a US and EU problem, (from start to finish), and now they act impotent and helpless in handling this Ukraine crisis, don't they?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora