17:49 29.04.2014

Luhansk regional administration building seized by separatists

3 min read

Pro-Russian activists have seized the building of Luhansk Regional State Administration.

They broke the glass and entered the building. Smoke pellets and firecrackers were used.

There was no police outside the regional administration as all law-enforcers were on the second floor of the building. Police officers used tear gas.

Some time later, a division of the National Guard which defended the premises of the administration abandoned the building. Earlier, the regional administration's leadership sent all their employees home.

Several thousand people, many of them women, gathered outside the regional administration's building. They are waving the flags of Russia, and of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, chanting "Shame on you!" "Russia!" and "Glory to the Berkut."

Some of the protesters are inside the building. Many are wearing balaclavas, miner's helmets, and others medical masks.

People are entering the building freely. There appear to be no clashes.

Several Russian flags are hanging from the rooftop of the administration. The flags of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic can be seen from the windows.

According to local media, one person received a head injury during the storming of the administration.

Sources in the headquarters of the Luhansk people's front said earlier that the building of Luhansk Regional State Administration had been occupied by supporters of the "people's governor" Valeriy Bolotov.

"These people are supporters of Valeriy Bolotov, they walked unarmed into the building of the regional state administration. The police themselves opened the door. In our view, all this was done demonstratively, they are not going to hold the administration," Luhansk people's front leader Oleksiy Chmylenko told Interfax-Ukraine.

"Valeriya Bolotov's supporters broke away from our joint pro-federalization movement and defend their own interests. Our data suggests that they are open to dialogue with the Kyiv authorities too. But we want a referendum, and the SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) has already written arrest warrants on us, including myself, and all the others I have spoken to," Chmylenko said.

Federalization supporters have been occupying the regional SBU office building since April 6.

Furthermore, the building of the Donetsk regional administration has been controlled by the opponents of the Kyiv authorities since April 7.

On April 27 federalization supporters in Donetsk seized the building of the regional state television and radio company. They demanded a stop to broadcasting of Ukrainian channels and re-launch Russian ones.

Opponents of the Kyiv regime have also seized power in a number of towns across the Donetsk region. This manifested most clearly in the town of Sloviansk where self-defense forces led by people's mayor Viacheslav Ponomariov came to power a few weeks ago.

The events in Sloviansk prompted the Kyiv authorities to launch a security operation there involving the Ukrainian Army. After several deadly attacks on militia checkpoints the Ukrainian troops started to besiege the town. The authorities in Kyiv said the troops will not be storming Sloviansk to avoid human casualties.