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Russian separatists force Ukraine riot police into surrender

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:33 p.m.
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Riot police officers clash with pro-Russian activists storming the prosecutors office on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Donetsk, Ukraine.

DONETSK, Ukraine — This eastern Ukrainian city took another step toward mob rule on Thursday as pro-Russian separatists stormed the state prosecutor's office and forced riot police deployed to guard the building into a humiliating surrender.

The attackers, who threw stones and wielded sticks, were backed by a crowd of at least 1,000 men and women of all ages. They chanted “fascists” and “traitors” at the riot police and waved Russian flags as well as those of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic.

Ukraine's acting president admitted this week that the police force in the east was “helpless” to protect citizens and that some of its members were colluding with pro-Russian groups.

On Thursday, citing Russian interference in his country's affairs and “threats of encroachment” from tens of thousands of Russian troops massed just across the border, Oleksandr Turchynov signed a decree reintroducing compulsory military service for men ages 18 to 25.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin made what appears to be a politically impossible demand: that the Ukrainian government completely withdraw its troops from the southeastern part of the country. He made the comments in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Putin told her that “it was imperative today to withdraw all military units from the southeastern regions” of Ukraine, and he called for a “broad national dialogue” about reforms to Ukraine's constitution, the Kremlin said.

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