Russian Protesters Seize Gov’t Buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov

According to BBC and to rt.com, a more or less official Russian news website, Russian protesters broke through police cordons to seize government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov.  The takeover was particularly violent in Donetsk, with one policeman injured.  Protesters demanded the release of Berkut officers accused of shooting pro-EU Maidan demonstrators in February, and more ominously, a referendum on what rt.com calls “a Crimean style referendum on independence from Ukraine.”

There are not large numbers of protesters … press reports speak of two thousand in Donetsk, with “dozens” storming the provincial administration building.

A key question is to what extent the Russian security services are supporting these demonstrations, and to what extent they are the initiatives of local Russian nationalist group?  In other words are Putin and his people backing the movement, and if they are, what are their goals/.  Do they seek to exert pressure on Ukraine to adopt a federalized system with more autonomy for East Ukraine, or are they aiming for a referendum on East Ukrainian independence followed by incorporation into the Russian Federation?  As I have said before, if the latter, then everyone is in very big trouble, including Russia.

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