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Residents Divided Over Protests

Published: April 23, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • A masked pro-Russian activist looking down from a balcony of an occupied Donetsk administration building.
    Photo: Max Vetrov / AP

YENAKIIEVE, Ukraine — In the wake of pro-Russian protests in the Ukrainian town of Yenakiieve — the hometown of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych — residents are divided over the protests and over their former leader.

The atmosphere in the town over the weekend was calm, with little remaining evidence of Ukrainian media reports that pro-Russian protesters had seized City Hall, the police headquarters and security service building there earlier this month.

Four unarmed pro-Russian demonstrators stood near City Hall as police officers patrolled nearby, and no barricades were to be seen in the area. Both the protesters and police denied that any seizure of the building had taken place, saying that demonstrators had peacefully entered the building, and that the city administration was still functioning as usual.

Near the police headquarters, neither protesters nor barricades could be seen. Yevgeny, a 34-year-old taxi driver, said that pro-Russian activists had entered the police headquarters and security service building last week in an effort to find weapons but had left them shortly afterwards.

Most locals declined to give their last names, citing fears for their safety.

By Sunday, the protesters had also left City Hall, and a flag of the People’s Republic of Donetsk — an entity proclaimed by pro-Russian activists — on the building had been replaced by a Ukrainian one, 30 Days, a Yenakiieve-based news site, reported. By Monday the demonstrators had again entered the building and hoisted a flag of the republic, according to the site.

Protests in the Donetsk region where Yenakiieve is located have intensified in recent weeks, with demonstrators — including men armed with firearms — seizing administrative buildings in cities across the region. Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian special forces of being involved in the unrest, a claim that the Kremlin denies.

Yenakiieve represented a sharp contrast over the weekend with the more tense situation in the Donetsk region city of Slovyansk, where armed pro-Russian gunmen seized major administrative buildings earlier this month and now effectively control the area.

Some locals in Yenakiieve expressed support over the weekend for the pro-Russian protesters’ demands.

Denis, a 29-year-old assistant engine driver, said he was in favor of joining Russia because of higher pensions and wages and lower taxes there.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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