Pro-Russia protesters stormed government buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities Sunday, further inflaming tensions there.

From CNN:

Demonstrators stormed a provincial administration building in eastern Ukraine on Sunday and raised the Russian flag atop it, demanding the release of riot police accused of killing protesters in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in February.

Police were negotiating with the demonstrators, who have called for supporters to rally around the Regional Security Administration building in Donetsk, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the Russian border. Video of the negotiations was being streamed live online by local news outlets.

The protest is the latest challenge to Ukraine’s embattled new government, which took power after a revolt that toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February. There was no immediate response to the seizure from top officials in Kiev, where the jailed police are accused of killing protesters during the uprising against Yanukovych.

Similar incidents were also reported in Kharkiv and Luhansk, according to the BBC.

Reuters reports that Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and ousted Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovich of agitating the actions.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said police would restore order in both cities without recourse to violence. He accused Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, whose political base was in Donetsk, of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions.

“Putin and Yanukovich ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive,” Avakov said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law enforcement officers, it’s true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, has canceled a planned trip to Lithuania, where he was expected to meet with speakers from European Union states.  Instead, he will hold an emergency meeting with the heads of security services in response to the protests, a separate Reuters report indicated.

Video report from CNN below.

[Featured image: Reuters video via CNN]


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