Hundreds of pro-Russian activists have recaptured a government administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
Many of the activists broke through police ranks and smashed their way into the building. Some flew the Russian flag from its roof on Wednesday, just hours after Kyiv’s authorities managed to fly their own flag there for the first time since Saturday.
Later on Wednesday, at least seven people were injured and several more arrested after scuffles between two bigger demonstrations on the city’s central square.
One group of around 10,000 supporters of the new authorities in Kyiv chanted “Down with Putin! Donetsk is Ukraine!”
A pro-Kyiv supporter said: “I’m against the war, against the separation. One thing is federation or autonomy but I want to live under the Ukrainian flag. I don’t want to live in Russia.”
The other group, around 2,000 pro-Moscow protesters, chanted “Russia! Russia!”
One of the pro-Russian supporters said: “We don’t want to be separated from Ukraine but we want a federation here so nobody can touch us (Donetsk).”
Ukraine says it has not used force to protect the building in Donetsk. It wants to avoid violence that might provoke a Russian military response.