12:43 14.03.2014

SBU detains self-declared 'governor' of Luhansk region Kharytonov

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has detained Ukrainian citizen Oleksandr Kharytonov, the head of the Luhansk Guard radical organization, the SBU's press center reported on Friday.

According to the report, Kharytonov was detained in Luhansk on Thursday, March 13.

"Criminal proceedings have been launched against the [suspect] on the grounds of committing a crime under Article 109 (actions aimed at the violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order or the seizure of state power), Article 294 (riots) and Article 341 (the seizure of state or public buildings or structures) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. On the permission of the prosecuting agencies he was sent to Kyiv for arraignment," the SBU said.

According to media reports, Kharytonov was declared "the people's governor" of Luhansk region.

In early March, Kharytonov passed to the deputies of the Luhansk Regional Council an address from protesters to the Russian leadership in which they asked to send troops to Luhansk and demanded that the new authorities in Kyiv be recognized as illegitimate.

On March 9, protesters broke into the office of Luhansk Regional Governor Mykhailo Bolotskykh and forced him to write a letter of resignation. It was read out to protesters. Later Bolotskykh said that he had resigned under pressure and that he continued to perform his duties.

These events were preceded by clashes between pro-Russian activists and Luhansk Euromaidan activists who held a rally near the monument to Shevchenko. A Ukrainian flag was removed from the flagpole and a Russian flag was raised instead.

On March 9, the Leninsky district office of the Luhansk city department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's main office in the region had launched a pre-trial investigation into the seizure of the Luhansk regional administration building.

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