Home Breaking News Ukraine: Tens of thousands of people hold rival pro-unity and pro-Russian rallies

Ukraine: Tens of thousands of people hold rival pro-unity and pro-Russian rallies

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have held rival pro-unity and pro-Russian rallies, as Moscow continues to strengthen its grip on Crimea.

Pro-Russia supporters beat up their opponents in Sevastopol, Crimea.

In the eastern city of Luhansk, pro-Russian activists seized regional offices forcing the governor to resign.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK’s PM David Cameron telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to pull back from Crimea. The region is to vote to secede on March 16.

Addressing a huge crowd in Kiev to mark the 200th birth anniversary of national poet Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk pledged not to give a “single centimetre” of Ukrainian land to the Kremlin.

Ukraine’s defence minister has said Kiev has no plans to send the army to Crimea.

In the eastern city of Donetsk, pro-Russian protesters take down a Ukrainian flag near the regional government building, replacing it with a Russian flag.

Pro-Russian rally in Simferopol, Crimea

Pro-Russian rally in Simferopol, Crimea

In Kharkiv, also in the east, some 10,000 people reportedly march to support Ukraine’s unity, chanting “No to war!” and “Ukraine, Kharkiv, Crimea!”.

Russia’s ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade behind bars, accuses Moscow of being complicit with Ukraine’s ousted government in using deadly violence against protesters

In Yevpatoriya, western Crimea, pro-Russian forces threaten to storm the command point of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile unit if the personnel there do not surrender their weapons.

In Sevastopol, the violence erupted when pro-Russian groups attacked dozens of people guarding a rally to commemorate Taras Shevchenko.

The crowd threw missiles at a car as the activists tried to flee the scene, smashing windows.

Some of the attackers were Russian Cossacks with whips.

The rally was attended by about 200 people.

A rival pro-Russian demonstration was also staged in the city – the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

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