30 March, 16:35

Kharkov, Odessa, Donetsk regions demand autonomy for southeastern Ukraine

Kharkov, Odessa, Donetsk regions demand autonomy for southeastern Ukraine

Demonstrators at a pro-Russian rally in central Kharkov on Sunday called for the establishment of an autonomous republic consisting of southeastern Ukrainian provinces. The meetings in Kharkov were followed by big Ukrainian cities such as Dotetsk, Odessa and Lugansk. The demonstrators urged the southeastern Ukrainian provinces to unite against Kiev. 

"We are the successors of the republics of Donetsk-Krovoy Rog and Odessa. We are not the surviving remnants of the Bandera forces. We have been and will be the pillar of our country," Yuri Apukhtin, a Civic Forum leader, told the demonstrators.

He urged the southeastern provinces to unite, create a coordination committee and campaign against the Kiev putschists in a single front.

"We see our place in Ukraine in a historically-shaped southeastern autonomy," Apukhtin said.

An agreement has been reached with the leaders of similar protests in Donetsk and Lugansk to coordinate joint efforts, he said.

The protesters demanded the release of well-known activist Ignat Kromskoy, who had been put under house arrest "on charges of organizing mass riots" for taking part in the March 1 action to drive away maidan supporters, who had come from Kiev and other regions and seized the regional administration’s office.

Participants in a similar rally in Luhansk demanded federalization and protested against the suspension of Russian TV channels in the Lugansk region. Several demonstrators wiped their boots a Ukrainian national flag.

Thousands demand referendum on Ukrainian Donbass status at pro-Russian rally

Several thousand people held a pro-Russian rally in Donetsk on Sunday demanding a referendum on the status of Donbas, a large industrial area in eastern Ukraine. After the rally on a square in the city center, where Russian flags and flags of pro-Russian organizations were held, some of the participants moved in procession toward the train station.

Pro-Russian, pro-European activists clash in Ukrainian Odessa

The pro-Russian marchers, who were carrying Russian flags, put the pro-European activists to flight and chased them, driving them toward the Duc de Richelieu statue but were stopped there by police.

They then hurled eggs at the pro-European activists and went away after a brief rally.The pro-Russian demonstrators had earlier gathered on Kulikovo Field, not far from the central train station. Police posted at what has become the usual site for pro-Russian rallies said between 2,500 and 3,000 people had turned out for the event. After the meeting, its participants marched through city streets in procession.

Over 2,000 people demand referendum at rally in east-Ukrainian city of Lugansk 

A rally demanding a referendum on transforming Ukraine into a federation brought together more than 2,000 people in the eastern city of Lugansk, local media said Saturday night.

The protesters demanded that the authorities heed the results of a 'Popular Referendum of the Lugansk Area' that was held across the region from March 16 through March 23 and embraced 173,000 residents.

An official statement issued by the spearhead group of the referendum said the respondents were offered to answer five questions.

A total of 96.19% participants gave a negative answer to question number one, which asked them if they had trust in the interim acting president of Ukraine Alexander Turchinov and the officials he had appointed.

Question number two - 'Do you support the slashing of social benefits and abolition of discounts at the IMF recommendation?' - got 95.77% negative answers.

Question number three asked the participants if they supported the status of Lugansk region as a constituent territory of a federation within Ukraine received 95.54% positive answers.

Slightly more positive answers - 95.66% were given to a question on whether or not the respondents supported an amnesty to the leaders of the popular resistance movement in the Lugansk area.

Question number five, which concerned a possibility of Ukraine's joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia got 96.1% positive responses.

The rally that gathered in downtown Lugansk chanted 'Russia', "Say No to Fascism', 'NATO Go Away', 'Yanukovich Is Our President', and 'Referendum'.

Also Saturday, a rally for a referendum on transforming Ukraine into a federation brought together more than 3,000 people on Lenin Square in Donetsk, the administrative center of neighboring Donetsk region.

Participants in the rally declared their intention to use legal methods for pressing the authorities into a referendum that would resolve the destiny of the heavily industrialized Donbass coalfields area. They were waving Russian flags, as well as the standards of the Eastern Front and the Donetsk Republic movements.

Many participants attached St George's ribbons - the symbols of military glory and victory in Russia - to their lapels of their coats.

One could hear people chanting the slogans 'Down with Fascism', 'Set Gubarev Free' (a demand to release Pavel Gubarev, the so-called popular governor of the Donetsk region, from the Ukrainian jail), and 'Donbass for Referendum'.

In the course of the meeting, activists of the Russky Bloc public association continued an opinion poll related to the proposals to turn Ukraine into a federation, to the status of the Russian language, to the possibility of Ukraine's joining the Eurasian Customs Union, and to collaboration with NATO.

Sunday, March 30, Lenin Square in Donetsk is likely to become the site of a many-thousands-strong meeting where the residents of the city and region will demand a referendum on the status of Donbass.

Friday, Ukraine's legitimate President Viktor Yanukovich, who had been compelled to leave the country in the wake of a coup in Kiev, spoke out in favor of turning Ukraine into a federation. For this purpose, he proposed to hold an all-Ukraine referendum instead of the early presidential election, which the powers that be have scheduled for May 25.

"As a President who stands sided by side with you deep at heart and in his thoughts, I call on every soberly-thinking citizen of Ukraine to resist the efforts of usurpers to misuse him or her," he wrote in an address to the nation.

"Demand a referendum on determining the status of each particular region within Ukraine," he said.

Voice of Russia, TASS

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