April 13, 2014
Thousands of pro-autonomy demonstrators rallied across eastern Ukraine, with the coup-imposed president in Kiev threatening to use military against the activists if they don’t clear the seized government buildings by Monday morning.
Over 10,000 people have taken part in protests in different town and villages of the Donetsk Region in Ukraine, the local administration said.
In the region’s capital, Donetsk, the local government headquarters still remain under the anti-Maidan activists’ control. Sunday, one of the leaders of the recently-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, once again stressed the urgent need “to send activists, who’ll prepare a referendum, to different towns of the Donetsk region” as he spoke at a rally in city’s center.
The recruitment of volunteers, eager to travel to Slavyansk and other towns in eastern Ukraine where“an anti-terrorist operation” against the protestors by the Ukrainian security forces is underway, also took place during the rally. Over 100 people volunteered by mid-day Sunday, with buses already prepared to take them to their destinations.
Hundreds also gathered for rallies in support of federalization in Druzhovka, Debaltsevo and other Donbas towns.
According to Ukrainian media, the city authorities in Zhdanovsk and Kirovsk have expressed readiness to start talks on the recognition of the legitimacy of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
A rally in Mariupol in south-east of the country resulted in the seizure of city council by the pro-Russian protesters, ITAR-TASS news agency reports. Over 1,000 demonstrators, who chanted “Slavyansk, we’re with you!” and “Referendum,” have forced the police, guarding the building, to retreat.
Some 1,500-2,000 people are out in the square in front of the office Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Lugansk, which is held by the protestors for several days now. According to Rossiya 24 channel, the majority of the city’s police have switch to the side of the demonstrators, supporting their push for federalization.
Meanwhile, dozens asked for medical assistance in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkov, after the pro-federalization demonstrators clashed with the Maidan activists. The rallies of two antagonistic sides, which saw a joint turnout of around 3,000, were staged in the city simultaneously, with the police being unable to prevent provocations.
“50 people required medical aid. Around 10 of them were taken to city hospitals. The doctors are speaking of minor or moderate injuries. Among the wounded there’s one policeman,” the local law enforcement authorities said.
Baseball bats, sticks, stones and stun grenades were used by both sides during the scuffle, Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reports.
Kiev issues new ultimatum
In the capital, Ukraine’s Security Council convened for an urgent session following the events inSlavyansk . A decision was taken to launch “a large scale” operation, “with the involvement of the military,” Ukraine’s coup-imposed president, Aleksandr Turchinov, said in a televised address.
Later he said that the operation in the east will involve a non-regular regiment consisting of 350 reservists.
According to Turchinov, the anti-Maidan activists must lay down their arms and abandon the administrative offices they have occupied till Monday morning if they want to avoid prosecution.
Turchinov also said the new authorities in Kiev are ready to consider giving more powers to the region. Earlier parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk pledged to push through a law allowing regional referendums  in the country.
Earlier on Sunday, a gun flight reportedly broke out at a checkpoint, which was established by protesters on the outskirts of the city of Slavyansk.
Reports on those killed and wounded kept streaming in all day, but lacked consistency and could not be independently verified. According to interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, one of the troops from Kiev was killed and five others were injured in the skirmish.
Protesters in Slavyansk said one person was killed and two others injured on their side, adding that two of the Kiev troops were killed.
Unrest has gripped eastern – Russian speaking – parts of Ukraine after pro-EU protests in Kiev ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, back in February.
Following the accession of the Republic of Crime to Russia, people in Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and other cities are also calling for a referendum to decide their future as part of Ukraine.
The order to use military against the pro-federalization protesters in eastern Ukraine by coup-imposed president, Aleksandr Turchinov, is “criminal” in its nature, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.