Armed men seize police department in east Ukraine

Photo: Armed men seize police department in east Ukraine / Other News

Armed men have seized a police department in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Saturday, the latest public building to be taken over in the east as Pro-Russian protesters stand off against Kiev, Reuters reported.

"Armed men in camouflage uniforms seized the police department in Slaviansk. The response will be very tough because there is a difference between protesters and terrorists," Avakov wrote on his page on Facebook.

A local police spokesman told Reuters the men had not made any demands, but did not give any details on their identity. Slaviansk is in Ukraine's Donetsk region, about 150 km from the border with Russia.

In eastern Ukraine, government buildings in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk have been occupied by pro-Russian protesters who want their regions to split from Kiev.

On Friday, a deadline set by the Kiev authorities for the protesters to end their occupation expired, but there was no sign of action from the Ukrainian police to force them out.

"I will say it again: those who want dialogue... will have dialogue and the search for solutions. Those who are up in arms, set fire to buildings, shoot at people, police, terrorize with bats and masks, these people will face an appropriate response," Avakov said in his Facebook post.

A change of power took place in Ukraine on February 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.

With the exception of Russia most countries refused to recognize the referendum and its 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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