Pro-Moscow activists proclaim Ukraine city ‘Donetsk people’s republic’

Russian soldier shoots dead naval officer in Crimea, defence ministry says

Pro-Russian protesters and their supporters sit next to a barricade erected in front of the seized regional government building in Donetsk. Photograph:  Stringer /Reuters

Pro-Russian protesters and their supporters sit next to a barricade erected in front of the seized regional government building in Donetsk. Photograph: Stringer /Reuters

Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 13:09

Pro-Russia activists occupying regional offices in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, today proclaimed the creation of a separatist Donetsk republic, a Reuters witness said.

One of the leaders of about 100 activists who moved into the building on Sunday night called for a referendum to be held no later than May 11th on the establishment of the “Donetsk people’s republic”.

Reading from a text, an unidentified, bearded man said protesters would call on Russia to send in a “peacekeeping contingent” in the event of aggressive action by what he described as the “illegitimate” authorities in Kiev.

Earlier a Russian soldier shot dead a Ukrainian naval officer in eastern Crimea, Ukraine’s defence ministry said today, the second Ukrainian death reported since Russia took control of the Black Sea peninsula.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has praised the military’s largely bloodless takeover of Crimea after it voted in a referendum last month to join Russia but the death may boost the already high tension between Russia and Ukraine.

“The Russian marine killed the unarmed officer. He killed the major with two shots,” said Ukrainian navy spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov.

Kiev has blamed Russia for stoking tensions in mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian protesters have seized state security offices in Donetsk and Luhansk, including facilities where weapons are stored.

The defence ministry spokesman said the soldier had been preparing his belongings to leave for the Ukrainian region of Mykolaev on Wednesday when an argument broke out with Russian servicemen.

The officer, Stanislav Karachevsky, who was married and had two children, was killed with an AK-74 on the fifth floor of the dormitory where he lived, he said.

A defence ministry statement said another Ukrainian soldier had been beaten by Russian servicemen and detained, but gave few details.

The first reported death occurred in Simferopol when an unknown gunman shot and killed a Ukrainian serviceman while he was manning a tower overlooking a vehicle pool at the base.

A defence ministry statement said the attackers had been wearing Russian military uniforms and were holding the base commander in a nearby building.

Meanwhile pro-Russian protesters who broke into state security headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk have seized weapons, and highway police have closed down entrances into the city, local police said today.

Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tension since Moscow-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich’s overthrow in February and the advent of an interim government in Kiev that wants closer ties with Europe.

“Unknown people who are in the building have broken into the building’s arsenal and have seized weapons,” police said in a statement. Nine people had been injured in the disturbances in Luhansk, they said.

Reuters