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Tear gas in Ukraine’s Donetsk as activists seize Prosecutor’s Office

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May 1, 2014

May Day celebrations in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, have turned violent as pro-autonomy activists seized the local Prosecutor’s Office. Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades but later relinquished their weapons.

The storming of the Donetsk Region Prosecutor’s Office began as several dozen shield-holding protesters pelted rocks and petrol bombs at the building while chanting “Fascists!,” as they tried to break in.

There were no immediate reports about those injured, but as was seen on a live stream, at least one person was carried from the scene, with someone shouting: “Call an ambulance!” According to the Ukrainian UNIAN agency, several law enforcers were wounded.

The activists demanded that law enforcers come out of the building and surrender, while about 200 police remained inside. Initially, the police hit back with tear gas and stun grenades, but later refrained from using force and took cover under shields as protesters continued to throw stones.

“Some security forces are laying down their shields, letting activists take them,” RT’s correspondent in Ukraine, Paula Slier reported on Twitter.

Eventually, the activists entered the building as the police left, removed the Ukrainian national flag, burned it and replaced it with the flag of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk.

The protesters formed a so-called “shame corridor” to let law enforcers out of the building, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

After the police were defeated, the crowd cheered the victors with a “well done!” chant and held a demonstration in front of the building.

May Day celebrations in Donetsk, one of the largest cities in crisis-torn Ukraine, began peacefully, with up to 300 communists marching through the city on Thursday morning. Waving hammer and sickle flags, they chanted: “Fascism will not pass,” and sang Soviet songs.

Later in the day, the communist march was followed by several thousands of anti-government protesters taking to the streets to demand a referendum on more autonomy from Kiev and a release of anti-government protesters.

Activists staged a rally in the city center calling for a boycott on the upcoming presidential elections. They also demanded freedom for the “people’s governor” of Donetsk”, Pavel Gubarev, who has been under arrest in Kiev since early March.

This article was posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 11:00 am

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