Saying Russian troops were within a 30 km (19 mile) zone from the
Ukrainian border, Yatseniuk told a government meeting: "An
anti-Ukrainian plan is being put into operation ... under which
foreign troops will cross the border and seize the territory of the
"We will not allow this," he said.
Pro-Russian protesters in the east seized official buildings in
three cities — Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk — on Sunday night,
demanding that referendums be held on whether to join Russia.
A similar move preceded a Russia-backed takeover of Crimea in March
followed by annexation of the peninsula by Russia.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Monday the main regional
administration building in Kharkiv had been cleared of
But police said protesters occupying the state security building in
Luhansk had seized weapons and highway police had closed off roads
into the city.
"Unknown people who are in the building have broken into the
building's arsenal and have seized weapons," a police statement
said. Nine people had been hurt in the disturbances in Luhansk.
Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in
tension since Moscow-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's
overthrow in February and the advent of an interim government in
Kiev that wants closer ties with Europe.
Russia has branded the new leadership in Kiev illegitimate and has
annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, citing threats to its
Russian-speaking majority — a move that caused the biggest standoff
between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.
The protesters appeared to be responding in part to Yanukovich, who
fled to Russia after he was ousted and who on March 28 issued a
public call for each of Ukraine's regions to hold a referendum on
its status inside the country.
Separately, Ukraine's defense ministry said a Russian marine had
shot and killed a Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea on Sunday night.
The 33-year-old officer, who was preparing to leave Crimea, was shot
twice in officers' quarters in the locality of Novofedorovka. It was
not clear why the Russian marine had opened fire.
Yatseniuk said that though much of the unrest had died down in
eastern Ukraine in the past month there remained about 1,500
"radicals" in each region who spoke with "clear Russian accents" and
whose activity was being coordinated through foreign intelligence
[to top of second column]
But he said Ukrainian authorities had drawn up a plan to handle the
"We have a clear action plan," he said, adding that senior officials
would head to the towns concerned.
Avakov on Sunday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of
orchestrating the "separatist disorder" and promised that
disturbances would be brought under control without violence.
Russia has been pushing internationally a plan proposing the
"federalization" of Ukraine in which regions of the country of 46
million would have broad powers of autonomy.
Ukraine, while drawing up its own blueprint of constitutional
changes for 'de-centralization' in which smaller municipalities
would be able to develop their own areas by retaining a portion of
state taxes raised, says the Russian plan is aimed at breaking up
Referring to the Russian plan, Yatseniuk said: "It is an attempt to
destroy Ukrainian statehood, a script which has been written in the
Russian Federation, the aim of which is to divide and destroy
Ukraine and turn part of Ukraine into a slave territory under the
dictatorship of Russia," he said.
"This is not going to happen," he said.
"I appeal to the people and the elites of the east. Our common
responsibility is to preserve the country and I am sure that no-one
wants to be under a neighboring country. We have our country. Let's
keep it," he said.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove and Pavel Polityuk, and Lina
Kushch in Donetsk; editing by Angus MacSwan)
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