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Ukraine Crisis: Rebels' chocolate giveaway in Donetsk ends in chaos

“No to blood candy!” crowds shouted, realising the sweets were made by the company owned by Kiev's President-elect

In a volatile nation on the verge of civil war, even sweets can become a contentious issue – as was proven in the city of Donetsk, where an afternoon of anti-Kiev speeches ended in chaos after rebels handed sweets to audience members.

On Sunday, the mood was initially positive when pro-Russia troops gave a speech in Lenin Square against the so-called “bloodthirsty Kiev junta.”

To end the rally in the city recently declared the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’, camouflaged militiamen handed box upon box of sweets and chocolates to both the children and adults, the Washington Post reported. 

Doling out the confectionery, the separatists reportedly admitted that the treats were taken from a nearby warehouse.

Soon, members of the crowd realised the sweets were manufactured by Roshen, the company owned Petro Poroshenko, the country’s newly elected President and so-called Chocolate King, whom rebels blame for violence in the south-east.

“It's a provocation!” some in the crowd yelled, while others feared the sweets could be poisoned, the newspaper claimed.

“Poroshenko can't both murder us and feed us at the same time!” said a woman, as the crowd reportedly chanted: “No to blood candy!”

Responding to the reaction, one soldier shouted that the crowd should not be concerned by where the sweets are from as they merely “wanted to give candy to the children.” The crowd eventually calmed, and the city's street-cleaners were left to deal with the subsequent mess.

The incident was relatively calm in comparison to the deadly violence witnessed for weeks in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

On Monday, gunmen entered the office of the local newspaper and seized its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy Valery Lapshin told The Associated Press. The gunmen said they were taking the Vecherny Donetsk editor for questioning.

In Slovyansk, 14 Ukrainian soldiers died when a helicopter was shot down, according to Ukraine's leader.

Months of protests during last fall and winter drove pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country. Many in Ukraine's east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, and protests in favour of greater independence from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called and internationally disputed referendums.