Ukraine activists declare autonomy for Donetsk

Photo: Ukraine activists declare autonomy for Donetsk / Other News

Pro-Russian activists who seized the main administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk proclaimed Monday the creation of a sovereign "people's republic" independent of Kiev rule, Agence France-Presse reported.

The decision was announced to reporters by a spokesman for the protesters who came out of the occupied building, Al Arabiya reported.

Footage posted on YouTube showed one Russian speaker telling the packed assembly from a podium: "Seeking to create a popular, legitimate, sovereign state, I proclaim the creation of the sovereign state of the People's Republic of Donetsk."

The announcement was met by a huge roar from about a hundred men packed inside an auditorium of what appeared to be the Donetsk administration building.

The industrial eastern region's Ostrov (Island) news website reported that the activists later resolved to join the Russian Federation in a move similar to the one taken by Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last month.

The news site said the resolution was met with cheers and chants of: "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin, help!"

The Interfax news agency reported that the self-proclaimed leaders of Donetsk vowed to hold a regional sovereignty referendum no later than May 11.

A change of power took place in Ukraine on Feb.22.

The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from the power, changed the constitution and scheduled presidential elections for May 25.

Yanukovych said he was forced to leave Ukraine under the threat of violence, and he remains the legally elected head of state.

A number of provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine, as well as the Crimea did not recognize the legitimacy of the Rada and decided on possibility of holding a referendum on the future fate of the regions.

The vast majority of residents of Crimea - 96 percent - voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, in a referendum held March 16.

Most countries refused to recognize the referendum's results.

On March 18 Russia and Crimea signed an agreement on Crimea as well as Sevastopol city joining the Russian Federation.

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