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Ukraine leader: Kharkiv protesters driven out

April 8, 2014
Associated Press

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's acting president said Tuesday that pro-Russia demonstrators who seized the regional administration building in the country's second-largest city have been driven out of the building and about 70 of them were arrested.

Addressing parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov said security forces retook control of the Kharkiv administration building early Tuesday. He said the separatists used hand grenades and unspecified weapons against the police and that some of them were injured.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov described the measure on his Facebook page as an "anti-terrorist operation."

Pro-Russia demonstrators, however, continued occupying the Donetsk regional administration in the nearby region and calling for a referendum.

Both cities are in Ukraine's east, where hostility is strong toward the government that took power in February after the ouster of Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych.

The seizures of the buildings and calls for referenda were an echo of the events that led to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula last month. After Yanukovych fled to Russia, Russian troops took control over Crimea and the region soon voted in a referendum to join Russia.

The West has not recognized the vote or the annexation and has retaliated with sanctions against Russia.

Even as the United States warned Russia of further sanctions if Moscow continues to seek to destabilize Ukraine, the White House announced Tuesday a high-level meeting among U.S., EU, Ukrainian and Russian diplomats in the coming days to try to solve the crisis.

Russia has refused to deal with Ukraine's new government since protests in February ousted the pro-Russian president.



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