Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'declares independence from Kiev’ and sets date for referendum on joining Russia

Russian media reports suggest industrial hub Donetsk could be set to follow in footsteps of Crimea

The eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk has reportedly declared itself independent from the central government in Kiev and set a date for a referendum on joining Russia, according to local media reports.

The local government building was taken over on Sunday night by pro-Russian activists, and on Monday the Russian news agency Itar Tass reported that “members of the regional legislature” had moved to declare the city and its surrounds the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The Ukrainian prime minister denounced the creation of a separatist state, describing it as part of a Russian plan to invade the east of the country.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told an emergency meeting of cabinet: “An anti-Ukrainian plan is being put into operation ... under which foreign troops will cross the border and seize the territory of the country.”

He added: “We will not allow this.”

In a series of developments which appear to show Donetsk following in the footsteps of Crimea, men purporting to be politicians at a session of the regional council said they had passed a piece of legislation entitled “An Act on State Sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic”.

In the same session, legislators were also said to have passed a decision in favour of holding a referendum on joining the Russian federation, to be held “no later than 11 May”.

According to Itar Tass, the document sealing its independence will see Donetsk “build its relations in line with international law and on the basis of equality and mutual benefits”.

It added that “the territory of the republic within the recognized borders is indivisible and inviolable”.

The information was relayed to reporters outside by activists, who have barricaded the government buildings in anticipation of attempts by police to retake them.

Donetsk is the administrative centre of Ukraine’s heavily industrialised eastern region, the Donbas. The building of its Regional State Administration was seized last night by protesters chanting “Russia, Russia” and waving Russian flags.

It was not immediately clear how far the protesters had the support of Donetsk's legitimate regional leadership, but Mr Yatsenyuk blamed Russia for “destabilising” the region, referencing the reportedly vast accumulation of Russian troops stationed within 30km (19 miles) of the border.

His comments came as officials said a Russian marine had shot and killed a Ukrainian naval officer in eastern Crimea.

There were fears Donetsk could be following in the footsteps of Crimea, already annexed by the Russian federation There were fears Donetsk could be following in the footsteps of Crimea, already annexed by the Russian federation In response on Monday afternoon, Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement calling for Kiev to stop blaming Moscow for the ongoing crisis.

“Stop nodding at Russia, blaming all the troubles of today's Ukraine on it,” it read, while also repeating demands for Ukraine to devolve further powers to its various regions.

Ukraine’s interior ministry said that on Sunday armed gunmen had occupied a security services building in Luhansk, a city some 25km (16 miles) west of Russia.

And the provincial government buildings of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, were reportedly also stormed briefly before being retaken.

On Monday, the German government said it was “very worried” about the weekend’s developments across eastern Ukraine.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “The latest developments in Donetsk and in Kharkiv are something which we are all very worried about in the German government.

“We must urgently renew our appeal to all those in positions of responsibility to help stabilise the region and avoid such escalation.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Nursery Assistants RequiredNursery Assis...

Supply Teachers needed in Bolton!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

English Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIREDWe are ...

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments