Ukraine accuses Putin of fuelling latest violence

Ukraine accused Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, of orchestrating the seizure of state buildings in two eastern Ukrainian cities by pro-Russia protesters yesterday, in a further escalation of tension between Kiev and Moscow.

Ukraine accuses Putin of fuelling  latest violence

The protesters seized the regional government building in the industrial hub of Donetsk and security service offices in Luhansk, waving Russian flags and demanding a Crimea-style referendum on joining Russia.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said police would restore order in both cities without recourse to violence. He accused Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, whose political base was in Donetsk, of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions. “Putin and Yanukovich ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many, but they are very aggressive,” Avakov said in a statement on Facebook.

“The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law enforcement officers, it’s true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs,” he said.

Ukraine’s acting president Oleksander Turchinov called an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Kiev and took personal control of the situation, the parliamentary press service said.

Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tensions since Yanukovich’s ouster and the installation of a pro-European government in Kiev.

Branding the new Kiev government illegitimate, Russia has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region citing threats to its Russian-speaking majority, a move that has sparked the biggest standoff between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

More than 1,000 people protested in Donetsk yesterday before breaking into the regional administration building where they hung a Russian flag from a second floor balcony, a Reuters witness said. Protesters chanted “Russia!”.

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