Ukraine’s acting president reportedly called an emergency meeting of Kiev’s national security council on Saturday after pro-Russian protesters seized control of government buildings in the country’s eastern region.
“A meeting will take place of the Ukrainian council of security and defense because of the situation in the east of Ukraine,” a spokeswoman for Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said, according to Reuters.
On Saturday, men in the uniforms of Ukraine’s now-defunct riot police occupied police headquarters in Donetsk, the eastern city that is one of the flashpoints of a wave of pro-Russia protests, hours after armed men seized local police headquarters and local branch of the Security Service in a nearby city.
The unrest in Donetsk and Slovyansk, about 55 miles to the north, were the latest shows of spiraling anger in eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population and was also the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who was ousted in February after months of protests in the capital, Kiev. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s east widely fear that the authorities who took over after Yanukovych’s fall will suppress them.
In Slovyansk, the mayor said the men who seized the police station were demanding a referendum on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia. Protesters in other eastern cities have made similar demands after a referendum in Crimea last month in which voters opted to split off from Ukraine, leading to annexation by Russia.
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