With baseball bats, pro-Russian activists seize government building in Ukraine's troubled east
LUHANSK, Ukraine — Protesters demanding more power for Ukraine's regions stormed the government building in Luhansk with baseball bats on Tuesday, seizing control of a key site in one of the largest cities in Ukraine's troubled east.
The move further raises tensions in the east, where pro-Russia militias have seized city halls, police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns.
In Slovyansk, rebels have been holding seven European military observers since Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said late on Tuesday that he hoped they will be released soon.
The demonstrators who overran the building in Luhansk are seeking — at the very least — a referendum on granting greater authority to Ukraine's regions.
Eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population, was the heartland of support for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president who fled to Russia in February. The government that replaced him in Kiev has resisted those demands so far, fearing they could lead to a breakup of the country or mean that more regions could join Russia, as Crimea did.
The storming occurred as 1,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the building. About 150 people, some masked and wielding baseball bats, broke out of the crowd and charged into the building, meeting no resistance. Later, protesters formed a corridor to allow police inside the building to leave.
Luhansk, a city of about 450,000, is just 15 miles west of the border with Russia.
Regional autonomy is a core issue in the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where insurgents fear that the government that took power after Yanukovych fled will suppress the Russian-speaking population.
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry accused Moscow of accelerating the crisis in Ukraine instead of sticking to an agreement to ratchet back tensions, and said NATO partners should step up efforts to lessen Europe's energy dependence on Russian oil.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Greek Prime Minister Tsipras in tenuous position with referendum on bailout deal
- Pakistani military says it achieved major victory over Islamist terrorists
- Draft accords of sanctions relief at Iran nuclear talks in hand
- Tunisia imposes state of emergency after terrorist attacks
- Egypt foiled extremist ‘state’ in Sinai, president says
- Russians decry U.S. description in new policy
- Mosque bomber was Saudi, Kuwait claims
- Egypt unleashes assault by air, land
- Iraq, ISIS urge Turks to release dam water
- 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars worth 40 cents
- Fallout of potential Greek default on eurozone feared