There was no resistance as gunmen walked into the mayor’s office in the city of Donetsk on Wednesday.
Staff remained at their desks and carried on working at the latest administrative building to fall to the control of activists. They already hold the regional government offices taken 10 days earlier.
Around three dozen men carrying assault and hunting rifles took over the building an official confirmed. He added that barricades were being erected outside though people were allowed to move freely.
“Our main demand is to send a message to Ukraine’s parliament demanding it pass a law about local referendums. The second is for the local council to organise a referendum on self-determination on May 11,” explained Oleksandr Zakharchenko, head of the Oplot Unit which took control of the mayor’s office.
In the eastern city of Kramatorsk it is claimed several armoured personnel carriers were blocked by civilians and some soldiers abandoned their vehicles.
Ukraine’s defence ministry has said six APCs were seized from the army by pro-Russia separatists.
They are the vehicles which subsequently rolled into the rebel-held town of Slavyansk the ministry confirmed.
The setbacks in the east of the country leave Kyiv looking impotent before a peace conference in Geneva on Thursday.
At that gathering its foreign minister is due to meet his Russian counterpart for the first time since Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich was toppled in February after deadly protests.