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Donetsk divided as rallies for and against new Ukrainian government meet in public

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Donetsk divided as rallies for and against new Ukrainian government meet in public

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Twin rallies were held in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, with one condemning the new government in Kyiv and calling for a referendum on greater autonomy for the mainly Russian-speaking region. Chants of “Russia” filled the air.

“We demand stopping money transfers to Kyiv and to refuse to recognise the government of fascists and nationalists that have taken over power in Kyiv by force,” said one local resident.

Donetsk is the power base of the fugitive former President Viktor Yanukovych, but unlike Crimea the region is ethnically predominantly Ukrainian.

While support for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions is strong here, support is not unanimous.

“This demonstration here was organised to support a united Ukraine. We want to live in peace, we don’t want war,” said another local resident.

The pro-Ukrainian rally eventually came face to face with their rivals, but were kept apart by police as voices were raised in anger.