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Ukraine: Pro-Russians storm offices in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv

April 7 2014, 09:53

Pro-Russia protesters hang a banner as they storm the regional government building in Donetsk April 6, 2014 A breakaway group broke into the regional administration building and hung a bannerPro-Russia protesters hang a banner as they storm the regional government building in Donetsk April 6, 2014 A breakaway group broke into the regional administration building and hung a bannerPro-Russian protesters have stormed government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities, bbc reports.

In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv they clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence.

Ukraine's acting president called an emergency security meeting in response.

The unrest comes amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the removal of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow has the right to protect the Russian-speaking population there.

Ukraine's leaders deny the country's Russian speakers are under threat and have said they will resist any intervention in their country.

Ukrainian Acting President Olexander Turchynov cancelled a planned visit to Lithuania and called a meeting of the country's security chiefs to deal with the unrest.

In Donetsk, in what was reportedly the day's most violent protest, a large group of activists broke away from a crowd rallying in the main city square to attack and occupy the regional government seat.

After clashing with riot police and breaking through their lines to enter the building, they raised the Russian flag and hung a banner from the building. Protesters outside cheered and chanted: "Russia, Russia."

Ihor Dyomin, a spokesman for Donetsk local police, said about 1,000 people had taken part in the storming of the building.

"Around 100 people are now inside the building and are barricading the building," he added.

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