KONSTANTINOVKA, Ukraine, April 28 (RIA Novosti) – Pro-federalization activists in the southeastern Ukrainian town of Konstantinovka have declared a rally inside a seized government building that they said will continue until a referendum on the region’s status is held, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
“An indefinite rally in support of the May 11 referendum starts at 5 p.m. today!” a protester said.
Demonstrators seized control of the city council and police department buildings earlier on Monday.
Trucks loaded with concrete blocks have reportedly pulled up outside the building. Protesters brought a building crane that they plan to use to erect a barricade. Earlier reports said sandbags were piled at the entrance and used as a make-shift roadblock.
Police and administration employees were not interfering with the protesters, the RIA Novosti correspondent reported. A group of onlookers has gathered outside to watch the construction of the barricade to the sounds of Soviet songs playing from loudspeakers.
Despite the conundrum, the city hall is open as usual. A local police chief has arrived at the scene to negotiate with protesters who have not yet announced their demands. They say the move comes ahead of a planned referendum on May 11 on the future of the region.
Konstantinovka is an industrial city in the Donetsk region and home to 76,000 people. Some 59 percent of its citizens are Ukrainians and 37 percent are Russians. Only 21 percent of the city’s citizens said the Ukrainian language was their native language, according to census data.
Protests for federalization have been sweeping across Ukraine’s eastern and southeastern regions since March. The protests later spread to several more cities in Donetsk Region and a number of small towns, where protesters seized government buildings.