Ukraine:People, not police, took back govt office from nationalists in Ukraine’s Kharkov

The police took a back seat when the Kharkov administration building was seized by armed nationalists from Western Ukraine and let pro-Russian demonstrators liberate it instead, the mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes told Kommersant.

The political tensions in the largest city in eastern Ukraine,  Krharkov have reached a pivotal point on Saturday during a  peaceful rally “For protection of the city” at which  tens of thousands, including children gathered.

Someone threw an explosive package at the crowd from the  administrative building held by a group of pro-Maidan protesters.

No one was injured by the blast, but a group of pro-Russian  activists broke through the cordon of Maidan supporters in order  to recapture the building.

Scuffles erupted resulting in injuries of more than 100 people.  Gun shots were also heard from inside the building, as well as  several more blasts. Eventually, the people have retook the  building, raising a Russian flag over the administration for a  few hours.

Commenting on the incident mayor Kernes said that the people  holding the administration building were ultra nationalist  elements “who hid their faces behind masks, had weapons,  including automatic ones,” the mayor told the Russian  publication. “Then it turned out that these men came from  Western Ukraine – from Lviv, Ivano-Frankovsk,” Kernes added  saying that all types of “nationalists” took over the building.

While the pro-Russian crowd with St. George’s ribbons tried to  detain the nationalists fleeing the building, law enforcements   “did nothing” to help them or stop the unrest, they just   “waited” to see what happened, Kernes said.

“They [police] have withdrawn themselves from the outset. And  I cannot understand on what basis they did not try to free the  administration building, which was seized illegally. Instead of  providing security for government employees, they did nothing and  waited.”

To protect the city against radical activists Kharkov residents  have established militia units to patrol the city. Groups of  30-50 young men people were keeping the night watch till early  hours of Sunday morning.

Inside the recaptured building, the floors looked like the scenes  from a battlefield with broken furniture, windows and blood  stains.

“The walls were destroyed, furniture, broken glass. It  smelled like gasoline,” Kernes said. “Inside the  building Molotov cocktails and explosives were found.”

Commenting on the overall split in the country, Kernes stressed  that situation in eastern Ukraine is different from the tensions  on the Crimean peninsula.

“In Crimea, the situation is quite different: it is an  Autonomous Republic, they have their own constitution. And we  live and work according to the laws of Ukraine [in  Kharkov],” Kernes told Kommersant.

Facts  you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Crimeans began protesting after the new self-imposed government  in Kiev introduced a law abolishing  the use of other languages for official documents in Ukraine.  More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only  this language for their communication. The residents have  announced they are going to hold a referendum on  March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous  region.

Feeling a threat from the new central government of questionable  legitimacy, a number of regions stood  up against it. Thousands of people across eastern and  southern Ukraine are flooding the streets of major cities, urging  local authorities to disobey Kiev’s orders. The local population  is calling the government in Kiev illegitimate and demanding that  their local governments refuse to take orders from it.  source