KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Armed separatists took virtual control of a city in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and Kiev prepared troops to deal with what it called an “act of aggression by Russia”.
Pro-Russian activists carrying automatic weapons seized government buildings in Slaviansk and set up barricades on the outskirts of the city. Official buildings in several neighboring towns were also attacked.
DONETSK/LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine’s prime minister offered on Friday to boost local powers in the regions in an effort to undercut pro-Russia separatists who have occupied official buildings in Russian-speaking cities in eastern Europe.
But separatists still occupied the main regional offices in Donetsk, while in Luhansk armed rebels were refusing an offer of non-prosecution by the Kiev authorities in exchange for them laying down their weapons and quitting the regional offices of the state security service.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Armed pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk rejected Kiev’s offer of amnesty for those who seized government buildings this week and called on others to defy the pro-European government in Kiev.
Protesters wearing bullet-proof vests and armed with Kalashnikov rifles, pistols and other guns inside the security building, a former KGB headquarters, said they would only lay down their weapons if Kiev agreed to hold a referendum on the future of the region.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine will not prosecute pro-Russian separatists who seized government buildings if they surrender their weapons and disperse, the country’s president said on Thursday, in a bid to ease a crisis that stoked fears of the country’s break-up.
But the armed men, who strengthened barricades around the buildings with barbed wire and sandbags overnight, said they would not leave unless the government also agreed to hold a referendum to boost the regions’ independence.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.
Protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.
WASHINGTON/LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea.
Armed pro-Moscow protesters were still occupying Ukrainian government buildings in two cities in the largely Russian-speaking east on Tuesday, although police ended a third occupation in a lightning night-time operation.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Past the barricades of metal railings, sandbags and barbed wire, Russian separatists peer out of the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, rifles in hand.
The headquarters of the former KGB in this small Ukrainian city less than 30 km (20 miles) from the Russian border is potentially the most dangerous flashpoint among buildings in eastern Ukraine seized on Sunday night by pro-Moscow agitators.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine’s state security service on Tuesday said that pro-Russian separatists had placed explosives in a building they seized in the eastern city of Luhansk and were holding 60 people hostage.
But the activists, who have controlled the region’s state security headquarters since storming it on Sunday, denied both charges. They said they had no explosives, but had seized an armoury full of automatic rifles.
LUHANSK/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian police cleared pro-Moscow protesters from a regional administration building in a lightning night-time operation, but others held out in two more eastern cities on Tuesday in what Kiev says is a Russian-led plan to dismember the country.
Shots were fired, a grenade thrown and 70 people detained as officers ended the occupation in the city of Kharkiv during an 18 minute “anti-terrorism” action, the interior ministry said.
DONETSK/KIEV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian protesters seized state buildings in three east Ukrainian cities on Sunday, triggering accusations from the pro-European government in Kiev that President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating “separatist disorder”.
The protesters stormed regional government buildings in the industrial hub of Donetsk and security service offices in nearby Luhansk, waving Russian flags and demanding a Crimea-style referendum on joining Russia.