Pro-federalization activists in Donetsk region are planning a referendum for May 11 where one would be asked to vote on whether one wanted the region to be an independent state, remain part of Ukraine, or become part of Russia. A central election committee is being set up in Donetsk city to organize the plebiscite, Interfax reports.
About 60 Ukrainian servicemen from the crews of armored combat vehicles sent to the town of Kramatorsk as part of a military operation to quell federalization protests in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday sided with protesters. The servicemen took down Ukrainian flags and headed to nearby Slavyansk.
“We have seen that they [protesters] are not separatists or terrorists, but ordinary local residents. We will not fight against them,” one of the servicemen who changed sides, all of them from Dnepropetrovsk, told a RIA Novosti correspondent.
By now, the crews of six airborne assault vehicles, several armored infantry vehicles and one armored personnel carrier have taken the protesters’ side. Part of them raised Russian flags and flags of the Russian Airborne Assault Forces. Several armored vehicles deployed around the state administration building in Slavyansk, which has been controlled by federalization supporters for several successive days.
A column of armored vehicles has entered the town of Slavyansk, and servicemen are considering siding with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, acting Slavyansk mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov told TASS.
Facing Slavyansk’s Town Hall are four armored vehicles, a self-propelled gun and a communications vehicles sent by the Kiev-based command to the Donetsk region.
“We’ve let them through. The only condition is that the servicemen unclip their magazines through they retain the ammunition load. Our activists are bringing dinner shortly: we’ll offer them a meal and then let them decide if they remain on our side or leave,” Ponomaryov said.
The military has a choice: join the Donbass self-defense units or leave their weapons and military equipment and withdraw, he added.
Earlier, fighters of 25th airborne troops brigade sided with the self-defense activists. However, a considerable amount of armored vehicles belonging to Kiev-controlled military units is still amassed near Slavyansk.
The “Anti-Maidan” in Odessa has announced the region the People’s Republic of Odessa and urged residents to block traffic in the city. “From today, the Odessa region becomes the People’s Republic of Odessa, where the power belongs to the people living in its territory,” a statement on the official website of the “Anti-Maidan” reads.
Activists urged city residents to block traffic in Odessa, having pointed 153 places on a special map on Yandex, where people should block traffic. It is planned to block the traffic for all kinds of transport, except ambulances.
“At 16:00 tomorrow, Odessa must get blocked! Literally,” the appeal reads. “Everybody who has not yet realized that the war had come to our houses should not go to work tomorrow,” the activists of the “Anti-Maidan” said.