KIEV, April 8 (RIA Novosti) – A senior official in the Ukrainian presidential administration said Tuesday that neither radical militants from the Right Sector movement nor US special forces participated in an operation earlier in the day against protestors in the eastern city of Kharkiv.
“I officially declare that no militants of Right Sector, not to mention US Special Forces, are currently active in Kharkiv, Donetsk or Lugansk,” said Sergei Pashinskiy, the acting head of Ukraine’s Presidential Executive Office.
The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier voiced concerns about the deployment of military resources in the country’s east, including US mercenaries and militants of the illegally armed far-right group Right Sector.
According to the ministry, their task is to suppress protests in the country’s southeastern regions, which have been organized by residents against Kiev’s current policies. A source close to Ukrainian law enforcement reported earlier that three combat units were transferred to the regions, including US special forces and Right Sector militants.
Protesters have been rallying for federalization across Ukraine’s eastern and southeastern regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Lugansk, calling for Crimea-style referendums on the status of their regions within Ukraine.
Beginning last month, protests in eastern cities have been held each Sunday, with citizens refusing to accept their newly-appointed governors as legitimate, as they were installed by the organizers of a coup in the capital.
On Monday, protestors in the Donetsk region established a “people’s council,” which declared the formation of an independent Donetsk Republic and announced plans to hold a referendum by mid-May on joining Russia. The protestors also called on Moscow to send in a peacekeeping force.
In Kharkiv, activists seized the Regional Administration building and proclaimed the formation of a Kharkiv Republic.
Russia has repeatedly said that Ukrainian nationalists and their aggressive rhetoric bear full responsibility for the crisis in the country, which resulted in the reunification of Crimea with Russia last month.
Moscow said that a federal form of government is the only way out of the protracted political crisis in Ukraine, currently a unitary state which is de-facto split into a Ukrainian-speaking west and a Russian-speaking east and south.