Mariupol residents form human chain amid rebel threat

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Mariupol residents form human chain amid rebel threat

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Residents of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol have formed a human chain, amid fears that separatists may try to seize the area.

Neighbouring Novoazovsk fell to rebels last week after fierce fighting with Ukrainian forces.

Those who gathered said they were not going anywhere.

“Today we formed a human chain to show the whole world and in particular Putin that we will not give up our city,” said resident Maria Podybailo.

“If he wants to come to Mariupol, he will have to shoot innocent people, he will have to shoot women and children.”

Trenches are being dug and barricades erected, as Mariupol prepares for the looming rebel advance.

Kiev and Western countries have accused Russia of propping up the separatist revolt. Russia denies claims its troops are on the ground in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia has said that Ukranian refugees who fled to Russia and are over the pension age can receive their pensions in Russia.

The United Nations estimates there are 730,000 Ukrainian refugees in Russian who have escaped the fighting because of worsening law and order, human rights violations and the disruption of State services.