Protestors Seize Government Buildings In Eastern Ukraine

Tensions in Ukraine are continuing to run high as pro-Russian demonstrators seized government buildings in several of Ukraine's key eastern cities.

Protestors Seize Government Buildings In Eastern Ukraine
The New York Times / Uriel Sinai

Tensions in Ukraine are continuing to run high as pro-Russian demonstrators in the country's east moved to seize government buildings in several major cities. 

The latest bout of unrest began in the industrial city Donetsk early Sunday. (Via Al Jazeera)

Thousands gathered for a rally at the city's Lenin square to demand the release of two riot police officers arrested on suspicion of manslaughter during February's protests in the capital Kiev. Protesters also voiced their opposition to the removal of former President Viktor Yanukovych. (Via Euronews)

The rally soon grew restless as some 200 demonstrators broke away from the main crowd and marched on a regional government building.

Police attempted to stop the demonstrators, but after some scuffles, the protestors were able to storm the building and raise the Russian flag. (Via Fox News)

The BBC reports those protestors now declare the city a "people's republic" and are calling "for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by 11 May."

Further east in the city of Luhansk, similar demonstrations were taking place. Pro-Moscow sympathizers there clashed with police outside a security service building. One protestor and one police officer were seriously injured. (Via BBC)

Later Sunday evening, protestors in the northeast managed to evade riot police and takeover yet another government building. However, protestors later left the building after negotiations, according to local police. (Via Bloomberg)

The most recent turmoil is just the latest challenge for Ukraine's fledgling interim government, which assumed power following the ouster of Yanukovych in February. 

According to Fox News, the new government in Kiev accuses Moscow of provoking unrest so as to "destabilize the situation" and "seize the country's territory." 

Moscow has made multiple promises to intervene in the Ukrainian crisis for "humanitarian" reasons, in order to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine's east and south from what it calls "Ukrainian nationalists."

Russia made good on its warning last month when it moved troops into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula shortly before the region held a referendum to abandon Kiev in favor of Moscow. Ukraine has refused to acknowledge the move, but the area is under de facto control by the Russian military at this point. (Via ABC, The New York Times)

Early reports from Crimea Monday indicate a Ukrainian naval officer was fatally shot by a Russian soldier over the weekend. The news comes as Ukraine continues to pull its forces stationed in Crimea back to the mainland.