Raw: Thousands Attend Pro-Russia Demo in Ukraine

|
News,World

More than 5,000 pro-Russia residents of a major city in Ukraine's east demonstrated on Saturday in support of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who fled to Russia in February in the wake of three months of protests in Kiev. (March 22)

SHOTLIST:

AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Donetsk, Ukraine - March 22, 2014

1. Various of Pro-Russian demonstration in Donetsk

STORYLINE:

More than 5,000 pro-Russia residents of a major city in Ukraine's east demonstrated on Saturday in support of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who fled to Russia in February in the wake of three months of protests in the capital, Kiev.

Protesters in Donetsk were also in favour of holding a referendum on whether to seek to split off and become part of Russia.

The rally came less than a week after the Ukrainian region of Crimea approved secession in a referendum regarded as illegitimate by the Western countries.

After the referendum, Russia moved to formally annex Crimea.

About an hour after the Donetsk rally began, the crowd marched through the city centre and assembled before the regional administration building chanting, "Crimea! Donbass! Russia!"

Donbass is the name for the region of factories and mines that includes Donetsk.

Demonstrators waving Russian flags were confronted by lines of riot police.

Eastern Ukraine is the heartland of Ukraine's economically vital heavy industry and mining and the support base for Yanukovych.

Russia and Yanukovych supporters contend Yanukovych's removal from power was a coup and allege that the authorities who then came to power are nationalists who would oppress the east's large ethnic Russian population.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is no intention to move into eastern Ukraine, but the prospect of violence between pro- and anti-secession groups in the east could be used as a pretext for sending in troops.

As tensions roil in the east, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is deploying an observer team aimed at easing the crisis.

View article comments Leave a comment