In parts of Donetsk city centre a concentration of pre-Russian activists have gathered around the occupied public buildings.
Signs proclaim a stark message for the European Union and the US telling them not to interfere while the Russian flag has become a constant symbol.
“I believe unity of the country should be preserved, that’s my opinion and the opinion of my friends. We will never sell our motherland. I was born in a Soviet Ukraine. It was Ukraine but it was also Soviet. So why not restore the Commonwealth of Independent States – the CIS?” said Alexander Dyakov Chairman of the police committee of the Republic of Donetsk.
For some, the proposed national referendum on constitutional reform cannot come soon enough and they want one on their future immediately .
“In terms of the Ukrainian national referendum we are not going to wait. We need to hold a local one in the administrative area of Donetsk in the Republic of Donetsk. We have some small common areas of interest with Russia but there is nothing concerning us to join the Russian Federation,” explained Djavad Iskenderov Chairman of the temporary government of Donetsk’s People’s Republic.
What is the mindset of people here in the east of the country? What are their fears and prejudices which could potentially influence their political thinking and how they might vote in a referendum?
“The eastern Ukrainian is afraid of west Ukraine and the so called “banderas” the ultra Ukrainian Nationalists. In the east they are scared of the central authority and are worried that the authorities could sanction the Donbas region for its support of Yanukovych and his family. They are also scared of American and European politicians,” opined Volodymir Kipen who is a sociologist.
A recent poll by the Donetsk Institute of Social Studies and Political Analysis revealed 66 percent of local people want a united Ukraine while 27 percent would back joining the Russian federation.
Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone in Donetsk said: “It is not just about a barricade in the city and away from that public building there is some tension, a little fear but surprisingly life goes on as normal.”