Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Yekaterina Len, 61, cries outside her ruined house following a shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Slovyansk has been the major fighting ground between pro-Russian insurgents and Ukrainian government troops in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are facing citizens’ anger
Protest » Country’s richest man calls for work to stop at his steel mill to condemn separatist movement.
First Published May 20 2014 09:26 pm • Last Updated May 20 2014 09:26 pm

Slovyansk, Ukraine • From the country’s richest man to citizens under fire, anger and dismay over Ukraine’s eastern turmoil gained strength Tuesday, but pro-Russian rebels, who have declared the region independent, vowed defiance.

In Kiev, home to the central government that the separatists detest, lawmakers passed a memorandum that guaranteed the status of Russian as Ukraine’s second official language and proposed government decentralization. While the document offered no specifics or time frame, Russia — which long had pressed for both commitments — offered words of guarded welcome.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"If what you are saying is true, this is the development we have been speaking about for the past months," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin was quoted as telling state news agency RIA Novosti.

In Mariupol, an eastern Ukrainian city that suffered fatal clashes this month between protesters and police, workers at a steel mill stopped their labor at noon as a siren blew. They gathered for a speech from the company’s chief condemning the separatist movement known as the Donetsk People’s Republic.

"We are here because Mariupol needs a peaceful sky above us. Tanks and guns have no place in our city," said mill worker Sergey Kulitsh.

The plant is part of the industrial empire of Rinat Akhmetov, regarded as Ukraine’s richest man, who had called for his workers to attend noontime protests.

The tycoon vowed to challenge the insurgents who declared independence last week in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, home to 6.5 million people.

"No one will frighten us, including those calling themselves a Donetsk People’s Republic," Akhmetov said in a statement.

Last week, his company organized steelworkers to patrol alongside police in Mariupol. The move forced insurgents to vacate government buildings they had seized in the Black Sea port.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov hailed Akhmetov’s move as likely to "sweep the terrorist scum away better than any counterterrorist operation."


story continues below
story continues below

One rebel leader in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, retaliated Tuesday by threatening to nationalize Akhmetov’s businesses over his refusal to pay taxes to the separatists.

Ukraine is holding a presidential election Sunday, which the government in Kiev hopes will unite the country behind a new leader.

Separatists exchanged fire again Tuesday with government forces on the outskirts of Slovyansk — the epicenter of the rebellion against the government — as residents voiced their anger over the fighting.

Yekaterina Len, whose house was hit by a mortar shell, burst into tears as she looked at the wreckage. The 61-year-old spent the night with neighbors.

Residents complained that rebels’ gunfire at government troops was drawing retaliatory fire and endangering their homes.

"They must stop with this banditry so that there can be peace!" said resident Lina Sidorenko. "How much longer can this go on? We had a united country and now look what’s happened."

Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the separatist leader in Slovyansk, heard an earful Tuesday as he met about 200 residents, who shouted at him to end hostilities.

Wearing a pistol on his belt and flanked by a bodyguard toting a Kalashnikov rifle, Ponomarev yelled back, saying he would pay compensation to repair damaged houses.

"Please, I implore you, do not panic!" he shouted. "If you do, you are playing into the hands of our enemies."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.