Earlier yesterday, Ukrainian authorities battled pro-Russian protesters and regained control over a government building in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, evicting the protesters and detaining dozens.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told Parliament that several police were injured during the Kharkiv clashes with what he termed separatists.
In Donetsk, a city 155 miles south of Kharkiv, protesters dug in for their third day at the 11-story regional administration headquarters they captured on Sunday and began forming their own parallel government.
Serhiy Taruta, the governor of Donetsk, scoffed at the shifting events in his city.
“I call this a theater of the absurd,” he said. “It is just artists performing, but the main thing is that there is an ever-dwindling audience.”
There was little sign yesterday afternoon that Ukrainian government forces had any immediate plans to clear the regional administration building, and Taruta insisted he wanted to see the situation resolved peacefully.
The city has been the site of weekly rallies and marches, but Sunday saw an escalation of that strategy when masked men carrying batons burst through police lines to take over the building. By Tuesday, 6-foot walls of car tires wrapped in razor wire had been erected against any attempt to storm the place.
On Monday, the demonstrators declared the creation of a sovereign Donetsk Republic and called for a referendum on the issue to be held no later than May 11.
Despite claims by the demonstrators to represent the entire Donetsk, a region of more than 4 million people, rallies outside the administration building since the weekend have drawn crowds of only a few thousand.
While none of the leading figures in the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic movement have said they want the region to join Russia, they have declined to rule out the option. Their initial priority, they say, is to secure autonomy, after which the population will be asked whether it wishes to become part of Russia.