Military Wiki
2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine
Part of the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution
[[File:{{{image_name}}}|240x240px|Map of protests by region, indicating severity of the unrest at its peak]]
Map of protests by region, indicating severity of the unrest at its peak
Date 23 February 2014–ongoing
(7 years, 7 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Location Eastern Ukraine
Southern Ukraine
26 servicemen killed and 86 wounded[1][2][3][4]
8 activists killed[5][6][7]
1–2 militants killed[8]
3 Mil Mi-24s helicopters shot down[9]
4 APCs,[10][11][12] 1 Mil Mi-8 helicopter[13] and 1 An-2 transport plane destroyed[14]
6 APCs[15] and 12 ships captured
37–78 militants killed[16] 63 captured[17]
44 activists killed[6][18][19]
25 alleged Russian spies arrested[20]

Since the end of February 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian, ultranationalist,[21] and anti-government groups have taken place in major cities across the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, in the aftermath of the Euromaidan movement. Various Russian news media outlets have used the term Russian Spring (Russian: Русская весна, Russkaya Vesna) to describe the wave of demonstrations.[22] During the unrest, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation after a crisis there. Protests in some regions have escalated into an armed separatist insurgency.[23][24]


Ukraine has been gripped by unrest since then President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union on 21 November 2013. A widespread movement known as 'Euromaidan' demanded closer ties with the European Union, and the ousting of Yanukovych.[25] This movement was ultimately successful, culminating in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which removed Yanukovych and his government.[26] However, some people in largely Russophone Eastern and Southern Ukraine, the traditional bases of support for Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions, did not approve of the revolution, and began to protest in favour of closer ties with Russia. Various demonstrations were held in Crimea in favour of leaving Ukraine and accession to the Russian Federation, leading to the 2014 Crimean crisis.

On 1 March, regional state administration buildings (RSAs) in various eastern Ukrainian oblasts were briefly occupied by pro-Russian activists. By 11 March, all occupations had ended, after units of the local police and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) re-took the buildings.[27] In Donetsk, protests have descended into violence on multiple occasions, including on 13 March where one pro-Ukraine protester was stabbed to death.[28][29] In Kharkiv, the Patriot of Ukraine militants killed an anti-Maidan protester and a passerby on the night of 15 March when anti-Maidan protesters had attacked the Right Sector headquarters.[6]

According to officials and eyewitness accounts not all attendees of the protests are Ukrainian nationals; a significant number of them are Russian citizens.[30][31] Donetsk oblast governor Serhiy Taruta alleges that rallies in Donetsk contain ex-convicts and others who travelled from Crimea.[32] Ukraine's security forces and border guards since 4 March have denied more than 8,200 Russians into the country as of 25 March. On 27 March, National Security and Defence Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said that between 500 and 700 Russians were being denied entry daily.[33]

On 17 April, during the 12th Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, the use of Russian armed forces in Crimea along with Crimean self-defence troops was avowed by the Russian president,[34][35] but Vladimir Putin denied the claims by Ukraine, the European Union, and the United States that Russian special forces were fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine.[36]

Public opinion[]

A poll conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) from 8–18 February 2014 assessed support for union with Russia throughout Ukraine. It found that, overall, 12% of those polled favoured union with Russia.[37] 68.0% of those from the four regions surveyed agreed that Ukraine should remain independent, with friendly relations maintained between Russia and Ukraine.

Support for a union between Russia and Ukraine was found to be much higher in certain areas:

  • 41.0% Crimea
  • 33.2% Donetsk Oblast
  • 24.1% Luhansk Oblast
  • 24.0% Odessa Oblast
  • 16.7% Zaporizhia Oblast
  • 15.1% Kharkiv Oblast
  • 13.8% Dnipropetrovsk Oblast

In an opinion poll conducted from 14–26 March by the International Republican Institute, 26–27% of those polled in southern and eastern Ukraine viewed the Euromaidan protests as a coup d'état.[38] Only 5% of respondents in eastern Ukraine felt that Russian-speakers were 'definitely' under pressure or threat. 43% of ethnic Russians ('definitely' or 'rather') supported the decision of the Russian Federation to send its military to protect Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine.

In the poll, 22% of those in southern Ukraine, and 26% of those in eastern Ukraine supported the idea of federalization for the country; 69% of southerners and 53% of easterners supported Ukraine remaining as a unitary state; and only 2% of southerners and 4% of easterners supported separatism.[38] 59% of those polled in eastern Ukraine would like to join the Russian-led customs union, while only 22% were in favour of joining the European Union. 37% of southerners would prefer to join this customs union, while 29% were in favour of joining the EU. 90% of those polled in the western Ukraine wanted to enter an economic union with EU, while only 4% favoured the customs union led by Russia. Among all the Ukrainians polled overall, 34% favour joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while 44% are against joining it. In eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine, only 14% and 11% of the respondents respectively favour joining NATO, while 67% in eastern Ukraine and 52% in southern Ukraine oppose joining it. 72% of people polled in eastern Ukraine thought that the country was going in the wrong direction, compared with only 36% in the western Ukraine.[38]

Anti-Maidan in Kiev, 14 December 2013

A poll conducted by the Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis analysed the identities of Donetsk inhabitants.[39] While support for separatism is low, just over a third of polled Donetsk inhabitants identified themselves as "citizens of Ukraine". More preferred "Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine" or "residents of Donbass".[39] The same poll determined that 66% of Donetsk residents that were polled support remaining in a unified Ukraine, while 18.2% support joining Russia and 4.7% support independence.[40] A second poll conducted 26–29 March showed that 77% of residents condemned the takeover of administrative buildings, while 16% support such actions. Furthermore, 40.8% of Donetsk citizens support rallies for Ukraine's unity, while 26.5% support rallies which are pro-Russia.[41]

In another research poll conducted 8–16 April by KIIS, a vast majority disapproved of the current seizure of administrative buildings. Over 50% of those polled in southern and eastern Ukraine consider acting President Oleksandr Turchynov to be illegitimate. Most of those polled in southern and eastern Ukraine believed that the disarmament and disbandment of illegal radical groups is crucial to preserving national unity. 19.1% of those polled in southern and eastern Ukraine believed that Ukraine should be an independent state, 45.2% were for an independent state but with decentralization of the power to the regions, but most felt Russia and Ukraine should share open borders without visa restrictions; 8.4% were in favour of Ukraine and Russia uniting into a single state. 15.4% said they favoured secession of their region to join the Russian Federation, and 24.8% favoured Ukraine becoming a federation. Most of those polled said they found nothing attractive about Russia, but those who did, did so for economic, and not cultural reasons. Those polled in southern and eastern Ukraine were generally split on the legitimacy of the present government and parliament, but majority of all regions agreed that deposed president Viktor Yanukovych was not the legal president of the country. In all regions but the Donbass, pro-Euromaidan oligarch Petro Poroshenko dominates preliminary election polls.[42]

A comprehensive poll released on 8 May by the Pew Research Centre surveyed opinions in Ukraine and Crimea on the subject of the unrest.[43] The poll was taken after the annexation of Crimea, but prior to the clashes in Odessa on 2 May.[43] 93% of westerners and 70% of easterners polled said that they wanted Ukraine to remain united.[43] Despite international criticism of 16 March referendum on Crimean status, 91% of those Crimeans polled thought that the vote was free and fair, and 88% said that the Ukrainian government should recognize the results.[43]

Anti-Maidan and paid protesters[]

During the Euromaidan revolution there were widespread reports that pro-Yanukovych and pro-Russian 'anti-Maidan' protesters were paid for their support.[44][45][46][47] Oleksiy Haran, a political scientist at Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kiev has stated that: "People at anti-Maidan stand for money only. The government uses these hirelings to provoke resistance. They won't be sacrificing anything".[48] Russian leader of the extremist Eurasian Youth Union Oleg Bakhtiyarov was arrested for, in part, recruiting rioters for $500 each to assist in the storming of government buildings.[33] On 13 April, the Interior Ministry stated that recruiters were found to be paying US$500 to take part in the attacks, and roughly US$40 to occupy buildings.[49]

Reports of paid protesters was supported by Party of Regions member Volodymyr Landik,[50] the First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema,[51] journalist Serhiy Leshchenko,[52] and a report released by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.[53]

Media portrayal[]

Russian and Ukrainian sources greatly differ in the way they portray the demonstrators.[54] Militants who took over government buildings in Donetsk Oblast are referred to as 'separatists' and 'terrorists' by the Ukrainian government and the western media, but Russian media and officials consistently use 'supporters of federalization'.[54] Russian media and the militants themselves have also consistently referred to the Ukrainian transitional government in Kiev as the 'Bandera junta', referencing the Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, and also as 'fascist', and 'nationalist'.[55][56] In the Ukrainian media, "colorado beetle" (Ukrainian language: колорадський жук, koloradsʹkyy zhuk ) has been used as a derogatory word for the pro-Russian demonstrators and militants, in reference to the Ribbon of St George they wear.[57]


Unrest by region[]


Beginning on 26 February, pro-Russian forces,[58][59][60][61][62][38][63] Only 5% of respondents in eastern Ukraine felt that Russian-speakers were 'definitely' under pressure or threat. 43% of ethnic Russians ('definitely' or 'rather') supported the decision of the Russian Federation to send its military to protect Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine.

In the poll, 22% of those in southern Ukraine, and 26% of those in eastern Ukraine supported the idea of federalization for the country; 69% of southerners and 53% of easterners supported Ukraine remaining as a unitary state; and only 2% of southerners and 4% of easterners supported separatism.[64][65][66][67] subsequently confirmed to be Russian troops by Vladimir Putin,[68] began to gradually take control of the Crimean Peninsula. During this time, the question of joining the Russian Federation was put to a referendum, which had an official turnout of 83 per cent and resulted in a 96% affirmative vote[69] but has been condemned by the EU, the United States, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar officials as contrary to Ukraine's constitution and to international law.[70][71][69][72] On 17 March, the Crimean Parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.[73] On 18 March, Russia and Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.[74][75] On 21 March, the accession treaty was ratified and the establishment of two new constituent entities in the Russian Federation was marked by a 30 gun salute under an executive order of the Russian President.[76] The U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution that declared that the referendum was invalid, and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as illegal.[77][78]

By 1 April, around 3,000 people had fled Crimea after its annexation.[53] 80% of those who fled were Crimean Tatars.[53] Teams from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and Chernivtsi Oblast have assisted internally displaced persons who have resettled in western Ukraine from Crimea.[79]

Donetsk Oblast[]

Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk, 8 March 2014

Pro-Russian protesters occupied the Donetsk regional state administration (RSA) building from 1 to 6 March, before being removed by the Security Service of Ukraine.[27][80]

According to Ukrainian authorities the seizure of RSAs are part of "a script which has been written in the Russian Federation" to destabilize Ukraine and bring in Russian troops executed by "about 1,500 radicals in each region who spoke with clear Russian accents".[81]

13 March was marked by violent clashes between pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan protesters in Donetsk. A large group of anti-Maidan protesters broke through a police cordon and began to attack a smaller pro-Maidan demonstration.[53] In interviews with OSCE monitors, bystanders described how a group of around thirty pro-Maidan protesters "were forced to seek shelter in a police bus that became surrounded by anti-Maidan attackers".[53] The windows of the bus "were smashed, and irritant gas was dispersed inside, forcing the group to exit the bus, where they were then subjected to beatings and verbal abuse".[53] A report by the OSCE said that "police forces" failed "to take adequate measure to protect the pro-Maidan assembly", and "could be observed treating the anti-Maidan protesters in a favourable manner".[53] After this day of violence, interviewees told the OSCE that residents of Donetsk had decided not to organize more peaceful pro-Maidan demonstrations, "out of fear for their safety".[53]

On Sunday, 6 April, 1,000–2,000[82] pro-Russia protesters attended a rally in Donetsk pushing for a Crimea-style referendum on independence from Ukraine.[83] After which, 200 separatists (according to Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Donetsk local police, about 1,000[82]) pro-Russian protesters stormed and took control of the first two floors of the RSA building, breaking down doors and smashing windows. The administration headquarters were empty, with only guards inside, as government officials would not work there on Sundays.[83] The separatists demanded that if an extraordinary session was not held by officials, announcing a referendum to join Russia, they would declare unilateral control by forming a "People's Mandate" at noon on 7 April, and dismiss all elected council members and MPs.[84][85][86] The people who voted within the RSA were not elected to the positions they assumed.[87] According to the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia, the declaration was voted on by some regional legislators, however there are claims that neither the Donetsk city council nor district councils of the city delegated any representatives to the session.[88][89]

On 6 April, the leaders of the separatist group Donetsk Republic announced that a referendum, on whether Donetsk Oblast should "join the Russian Federation", would take place "no later than 11 May 2014."[90][91] Additionally, the group's leaders have appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to send Russian peacekeeping forces to the region.[90][91][92] The group has been banned in Ukraine since 2007. The group's leader, Andrei Purgin, was arrested weeks prior on charges of separatism.[93] The political leader of the state is the self-declared People's Governor Pavel Gubarev,[94] a former member of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine.[95] who is also currently arrested on charges of separatism.[96][97]

In response to the actions, acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov vowed to launch a major counter-terrorism operation against separatist movements in the country's eastern regions.[98] Later that day, the SBU office in Donetsk was retaken by SBU Alpha Group.[99][100] Turchynov has offered amnesty to the separatists if they lay down their arms and surrender, and has also offered concessions that include potential devolution of power to regions, and the protection of the Russian language in law.[101][102] Many in Donetsk have expressed disapproval toward the actions of the separatists.[103]

Government building seizures[]

Sloviansk city council under control of masked men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket launchers

On 12 April, masked men in army fatigues and bulletproof vests, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles captured the executive committee building, the police department and SBU office in Sloviansk, a city in the northern part of the Donetsk Oblast.[104] Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has labelled the gunmen as "terrorists", and swore to use the Ukrainian special forces to retake the building.[105][106]

Seizures of police stations and other government buildings by armed separatist groups also occurred in other cities in Donetsk Oblast, including Donetsk city proper, Kramatorsk, Druzhkovka, Horlivka, Mariupol and Yenakiyeve.[107][108][109] Ukrainian transitional president Oleksandr Turchynov launched a full-scale 'anti-terror' military operation to reclaim the buildings.[108]

Vitaliy Yarema, the Ukrainan vice prime minister for law enforcement, alleged that Russian Special Forces units, including the 45th Parachute Guards Regiment usually stationed near Moscow, are operating on Ukrainian territory in the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. On 16 April, the alleged number of Russian special forces troops was 450.[110][111]

By 16 April, the 'anti-terror' operation being conducted by the Ukrainian government in Donetsk Oblast had hit some stumbling blocks.[112] Protesters seized Ukrainian armoured vehicles in Kramatorsk, and sent soldiers away in Sloviansk.[112]

During the night of 16 April, about 300 pro-Russian protesters attacked a Ukrainian military unit in Mariupol, throwing petrol bombs.[113] Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that troops were forced to open fire, resulting in the killing of three of the attackers.[113]

The Geneva Statement of 17 April did not result in the end of the government building occupations in Donetsk Oblast. Two pro-Russian groups in Mariupol said that they 'felt betrayed' by the action taken in Geneva.[79] A truce declared for Easter Sunday was broken by an attack upon a separatist checkpoint in Sloviansk, further inflaming tensions.[114]

The situation remained tense on 23 April, with occupation of government buildings ongoing throughout the region. OSCE monitors observed that the city administration building, SBU building, and police station in Sloviansk remained heavily fortified by armed groups of men with masks and automatic weapons.[115] The city remained quiet, with no protests occurring. However, the monitors believed that the city remained under heavy surveillance, both by people in uniforms and masks, but also by many persons in civilian clothing. One resident said that people in Sloviansk were afraid to discuss their opinions of the occupiers.[115]

The barricade outside Donetsk RSA. Notice the anti-western slogans.

On 24 April, Ukrainian forces made a series of 'probing attacks' into Sloviansk against the insurgents. The self-proclaimed separatist mayor of the city, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, declared in response that 'We will make Stalingrad out of this town'.[116] The Ukrainian government then stated on 25 April that it would 'fully blockade the city of Sloviansk', and continue with the 'anti-terror' operation.[117] Amid the increasing tensions, separatists in Sloviansk detained seven international monitors on an OSCE military verification mission in Ukraine, who had been travelling into the city on a bus, along with the bus driver and five accompanying Ukrainian soldiers.[118][119] They are being held at the occupied SBU building.[118][120] Access to the city remained unrestricted despite the supposed Ukrainian army blockade, with separatist barricades manned by fewer people then on previous days.[119] Local residents said that the separatist administration in Sloviansk provided no administrative services to citizens.[119]

Leaflets released by the Donetsk People's Republic were distributed on 26 April, notifying citizens of a referendum on the question of whether or not they support the proclamation of "state sovereignty" by the Republic.[121] The referendum is to be held on 11 May. In the morning on the next day, two members of the OSCE special monitoring mission were held by a group of unarmed men from the Donbass People's Militia in Yenakiyeve.[121] They were taken to the occupied city hall, questioned, and then released after a letter sent by the mission's office in Kiev confirmed the credentials of the monitors.[121] A large pro-government rally in Donetsk city marched in protest against the violence in Donetsk Oblast, and the attempted assassination of Kharkiv mayor Hennadiy Kernes on 28 April.[122][123] The rally was swiftly and violently broken up by separatists armed with baseball bats, iron rods, firecrackers and shields.[122]

Second counter-offensive[]

The barricade outside Donetsk RSA on 4 May

A new counter-offensive by government forces on Sloviansk during the early morning of 2 May resulted in the downing of two government helicopters, and some human casualties on both sides.[124][125][126] As a result, Ukrainian forces gained control of all separatist checkpoints, and of half the city.[124][127] President Oleksandr Turchynov said that many separatists were "killed, injured and arrested".[127][128] In the early morning on the next day, the counter-offensive then targeted to Kramatorsk, and Andreevka.[129] Serious fighting resulted in the recapture of the occupied buildings in Kramatorsk by government forces, and at least ten separatists were said to have been killed in Andreevka.[129]

As fighting continued in Donetsk Oblast, all of the international military monitors who had been held in Sloviansk were released by Vyacheslav Ponomaryov on 3 May.[129][130] On the same day, protesters in the city of Donetsk stormed and occupied the chairman of the regional government's private business office and the SBU building, smashing windows and ransacking files as an act of revenge for the clashes in Odessa.[131][132]

Kramatorsk was reoccupied by militants on 4 May, and Sloviansk saw renewed fighting on 5 May, resulting the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers.[133][134] Fierce fighting took place in Mariupol from 5 May.[135] Posters plastered on the occupied city administration read "OSCE get out" or "OSCE you cheat".[136] As part of the counter-offensive, government forces recaptured the that building on 7 May, but then left it, allowing for the separatists to quickly re-occupy it.[135]

Occupied buildings in Donetsk had been heavily fortified by 6 May, and Donetsk International Airport was closed to all traffic.[137] The regional television broadcasting centre remained occupied by about thirty camouflaged insurgents with AK-47s.[137] A BTR-70 was parked outside building, along with barricades made of sandbags and tyres. A similar presence was observed at the RSA building.[137]

On 7 May, Russian president Vladimir Putin asked the separatists to delay the planned 11 May referendum on the status of Donetsk.[138] Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, said that the referendum would not be delayed.[139] In response, Ukrainian transitional prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk referred to Putin's words "hot air", and vowed that the counter-offensive in Donetsk would continue.[139]

A large skirmish erupted in Mariupol on 9 May, when government troops launched an attack on a police station in the city, resulting in the killing of at least twenty people.[140] These were described by the Ukrainian government as "militants" and "terrorists", though some local residents claimed that they were unarmed protestors.[140][141][142][143]

The disputed referendum on the status of Donetsk Oblast was held on 11 May.[144][145] According to representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic, 89% voted in favour of self-rule, and 10% voted against.[144] Turnout was said to be 75%.[145] OSCE monitors did not observe the referendum, as the situation in Donetsk after the skirmish in Mariupol was said to be "volatile", forcing them to restrict their operations in the region.[146] After the results were announced, leader of the Republic Denis Pushilin said that "all Ukrainian military troops in the region would be considered occupying forces".[144] In response to the perceived weakness of the Ukrainian army, some Ukrainians who oppose the insurgents formed the "Donbass Volunteer Battalion", modelled on the Ukrainian partisan groups that fought against both German Reich and the Soviet Union during the Second World War.[147]

Attacks on journalists[]

Insurgent emplacement in Donetsk, also showing a road sign that points to major conflict areas: Sloviansk and Mariupol.

There have been a number of attacks on members of the press by members of the separatists in Donetsk. On 10 April, protesters outside the Donetsk RSA attacked Belarusian journalists for speaking the Belarusian language, and not Russian; Ukrainian journalists were forced to speak Russian to avoid angering pro-Russian protesters. They also allegedly attacked reporters from Russia Today, but RT did not carry the story.[148][verification needed] Days later on 12 April, a group of 150 people supported the armed militants outside the police station in Sloviansk were hostile to journalists, telling them to "go back to Kiev."[104]

An unknown man set the car of the editor-in-chief of the News of Donbass on fire. The editor had been receiving anonymous threats from the separatists. [149] On 19 April, the offices of a local newspaper Pro Gorod in Torez, 80 km south-east of Donetsk, were set on fire.[150]

Separatists torched the offices of the newspaper Provintsia in Kostiantynivka on 23 April, after previously harassing newspaper staff and labelling them as members of the 'Right Sector movement'.[151][152] Stepan Chirich, a Belarusian reporter with the Russian NTV channel disappeared in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.[152] Another journalist, Evgenii Gapich, a photographer for the Reporter newspaper from Ivano-Frankivsk disappeared in Horlivka. His whereabouts are unknown, but allegedly he has been held in detention by separatist forces in Sloviansk.[152] Furthermore, Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist with Vice News, was captured by unidentified people in uniform in Sloviansk.[152]

Luhansk Oblast[]

Protesters around a statue of Taras Shevchenko on Heroes Square in Luhansk, 1 March 2014

In protest against the proposed cancelling of the regional language law, the regional administration of Luhansk Oblast voted to demand that the Russian language be given official language status. They also demanded the stopping of the persecution of former Berkut officers, the disarming of Maidan self-defence units, and the banning of a number of far-right political organizations, like Svoboda and UNA-UNSO. In the event that the authorities failed to comply with the demands, the Oblast administration reserved the "right to ask for help from the brotherly people of the Russian Federation".[153]

Government buildings in Luhansk have been occupied multiple times. A peaceful pro-Maidan demonstration on Heroes Square, outside the Luhansk city administration building, was attacked by anti-Maidan counter-demonstrators on 9 March.[53] The attackers then stormed the building, and occupied it, but were swiftly removed by government forces.[53][154][155] The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) local headquarters was occupied on 6 April, along with the SBU's armoury of over 300 machine guns.[156] Pro-Russian activists discussed plans for a Lugansk Parliamentary Republic on 8 April 2014.[157] 1,500 were involved in the building's occupation.[158] The occupiers referred to themselves as the Army of the South-East (Russian: Армия Юго-Востока).[159][160] According to The Guardian, the personnel include former members of the Berkut special police.[159]

The mood remained tense in Luhansk on 14 April.[107] During the morning, up to 300 persons were observed at the entrance of the SBU building.[107] There has been no indication that pro-Russian demonstrators in Luhansk would enact the terms of the Geneva Statement on Ukraine, and demonstrations have continued.[161] Those occupying the SBU building told OSCE monitors on 20 April that they would demobilize once occupied buildings in Kiev were vacated by Euromaidan supporters.[161] The monitors also encountered a roadblock near the village of Rayhorodka, in Novoaidar Raion.[162] It was manned by about ten people in civilian clothes, including the local Orthodox priest. They stated that they set-up the roadblock on 14 April to protect their village from any separatist incursions. A commander of the Ukrainian army indicated that no incidents had occurred at the roadblock so far, but that unknown armed individuals had been seen approaching it in the night.[162]

A rally outside the SBU building to elect a 'people's government' in Luhansk occurred on 21 April.[162][163][164] At the rally, protesters called for an 11 May referendum on the status of Luhansk Oblast with three options: be part of a Ukrainian Federation, join the Russian Federation or remain part of a unitary Ukraine. Around 1,500 participants were observed at the peak of the rally.[162] The leaders of the rally claimed that they not separatists, but instead sought a peaceful solution, which would allow Luhansk to remain within Ukraine.[162][163]

The OSCE monitoring mission reported that the situation in Luhansk on 23 April was 'stable', and that the area around the occupied SBU building was 'quiet'.[115] The monitors met with representatives of a non-governmental organization that claimed they had been held captive for six hours within the building on 21 April, and that about 100 men in unmarked uniforms with machine guns were present inside it at the time.[115]


Several hundred protesters that had gathered outside the occupied SBU building proclaimed the "Luhansk People's Republic" on 27 April.[165][166][167] They demanded that Ukrainian government provide amnesty for all protesters, enshrine Russian as an official language, and hold a referendum on the status of the region.[165] They issued an ultimatum that stated that if Kiev did not meet their demands by 14:00 on 29 April, they would launch an insurgency in tandem with that of the Donetsk People's Republic.[165][168]

As these demands were not met, 2,000 to 3,000 protestors stormed the Luhansk RSA building on 29 April.[169][170] Previously, only the SBU building had been targeted. The building was unprotected on the exterior, but a group of riot police confronted the protesters in an inner courtyard of the building.[171] A brief standoff resulted, but the police did nothing to stop the protesters.[171] A Russian flag was raised over the building.[170] Several other buildings, including a police station and the local prosecutor's office were later seized.[170] Twenty separatist gunmen fired machine guns at the police station to force the officers within to surrender.[172] President Oleksander Turchynov responded to the loss of the buildings by demanding the immediate resignation of police chiefs in Donetsk and Luhansk.[172] By 2 May, however, pro-Russian protesters occupying the city council and the television centre had left, and the prosecutors office was freed following negotiations between authorities and separatists.[124][173]

The next day, however, separatist leader and self-proclaimed mayor of Luhansk Valeriy Bolotov (Болотов Валерій Дмитрович (uk)) announced the formation of a "South-Eastern Army" to march on Kiev.[132] Bolotov also declared a state of emergency, introduced a curfew, a ban on political parties, and a mandate that local law enforcement officials must take an oath of allegiance to him.[132] In a video statement, he said "In case of not following this, you will be announced traitors of people of Luhansk and wartime measures will be taken against you".[174]

A GAZ Tigr heavy armoured vehicle emblazoned with the emblem of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia was seen parked outside the RSA building on 8 May, along with men in military gear and assault rifles.[175][176] Whilst speaking to OSCE monitors, the Deputy Governor of Luhansk Oblast said that the "security situation in the region is deteriorating due to activities of the separatists and criminal gangs".[175] Members of the OSCE special monitoring mission were later stopped at an 'illegal' checkpoint near the village of Shchastya, and held for three hours before being released.[146]

The disputed referendum on the status of Luhansk Oblast was held on 11 May.[144][145] According to representatives of the Luhansk People's Republic, 96.2% voted in favour of self-rule, and voter turnout was 75%.[177]

Kharkiv Oblast[]

Pro-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, 8 April 2014

Protests have been ongoing in Kharkiv Oblast, and the regional state administration building there has been occupied multiple times.

Pro-Russian protesters occupying the Kharkiv regional state administration building unilaterally declared independence from Ukraine as the "Kharkov People's Republic" on 7 April 2014.[178][179] By the next day, seventy protesters were arrested and the RSA building was retaken by Ukrainian special forces.[180]

1,000 pro-Russian protesters returned to the RSA building on 13 April, and rallied around it, with some making it inside.[181] These protesters then holed up inside the building with pro-separatist mayor Hennadiy Kernes. Later in the day, Kernes declared his support for a referendum and amnesty for the arrested Kharkiv separatists.[182] At least 50 pro-Ukrainian protesters, who had been holding concurrent demonstrations, were severely beaten in attacks by pro-Russian protesters.[181][183] Gunshots and grenade explosions were heard. Videos showed three people covered with blood being held on the metro station stairs, and separatists coming up to them, kicking them and shouting "they are not humans!"[181]

According to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitoring mission on 19 April, no protesters were seen in front of the RSA building since 13 April.[107] In a session of the Kharkiv City Appeals Court on 17 April, it was ruled that 43 of the 65 protesters arrested by authorities following the takeover of the RSA building on 8 and 9 April would remain in custody.[79] Sentences for another 16 were changed to house arrest. Three detainees were released on bail, whereas the three remaining had been earlier sentenced to house arrest.[79]

Kharkiv remained calm over the weekend of 19–20 April, though a small, peaceful pro-Russian protest was held on Freedom Square.[161] Demonstrations continued on Freedom Square, with 500 people gathering on 21 April to elect a 'people's government'.[162] Worsening economic conditions in Ukraine were cited by participants as an impetus for the demonstrations.[162] They called for the resignation of the city mayor and prosecutor as well as the return of Viktor Yanukovych. Vladimir Varshavsky was elected 'people's governor'.[162]

An anti-government poster at a rally on Freedom Square, in Kharkiv

More peaceful rallies were held in the morning on 23 April, with both anti-government and pro-government demonstrations being held in Kharkiv city centre.[115][184] Each rally was attended by around 400 people.[115] Around 150 anti-government protesters gathered outside the city council building on Constitution Square concurrently with the rallies. Later that day, over 7,000 townspeople held a rally on the same spot to support the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.[185] The situation overall in Kharkiv remained calm, though police remained on high alert.[115] A small group of riot police were seen guarding the RSA building on 25 April, though the police presence as a whole in the city appeared to be much reduced.[119]

Rival demonstrations by supporters and opponents of a unitary Ukrainian state occurred on 27 April in Kharkiv city.[121] This resulted in clashes between around 400 opponents and 500 to 600 supporters of the Ukrainian government. Police attempts to quell the unrest were not successful.[121]

Shooting of Hennadiy Kernes[]

The mayor of Kharkiv, Hennadiy Kernes, was shot in the back while cycling on 28 April.[186] He was said to be in "grave, but stable" condition.[187][188] Kernes was known as a staunch opponent of the Euromaidan. However, he had stated that he did not support the pro-Russian insurgency, and backed a united Ukraine.[187] Mykhailo Dobkin, a former governor of Kharkiv Oblast and potential Ukrainian presidential candidate, said "You want to know my opinion, they were shooting not at Kernes, but at Kharkiv", and claimed that the shooting was an attempt to destabilize what was otherwise a relatively calm region.[187]

Kharkiv returned to relative calm by 30 April, no rallies having been observed there by OSCE monitors.[169] A minor demonstration by about four-hundred separatists was held in Freedom Square on 4 May.[132] A notably increased police presence remained in and around Freedom Square. On the same day, a planned rally by pro-Ukrainian unity groups was cancelled due to concerns about potential clashes in the wake of the Odessa disaster.[132]

Odessa Oblast[]

Pro-Russian demonstration in Odessa, 13 April 2014

Beginning on 1 March, demonstrations have been ongoing in Odessa Oblast. Police reported that 5,000 participated in a pro-Russian demonstration in the city of Odessa on that day.[189]

Rolling demonstrations continued, and on 3 March 2014, 200–500 demonstrators with Russian flags attempted to seize the Odessa Regional State Administration building.[190][191][192] They demanded that a referendum on the establishment of an "Odessa Autonomous Republic" be held.[191]

An 'Odessa People's Republic' was allegedly proclaimed by an internet group in Odessa Oblast on 16 April.[193] Members of the Odessa anti-Maidan protest group later swore that they made no such declaration, and the leaders of the group said they had only heard about it through the media.[194] The OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine later confirmed that the situation in Odessa remained calm.[107]

Local anti-Maidan and pro-Euromaidan leaders in Odessa Oblast voiced scepticism about the Geneva Statement on Ukraine on 20 April. The anti-Maidan leaders insisted that they aimed not at secession, but at the establishment of a wider federative state called 'New Russia' (Russian: Novorossiya) within Ukraine.[161]

A hand grenade was thrown from a passing car at a joint police-Maidan self-defence checkpoint outside Odessa on 25 April, injuring seven people, and causing heightened tensions in the region.[195][196]

City centre clashes[]

A week later, on 2 May, a rally by about 1,500 pro-government demonstrators was attacked by pro-Russian militants with batons and helmets.[197][198][199] Both sides clashed in the streets of central Odessa, building barricades, throwing petrol bombs, and firing automatic weapons at each other.[200]

The pro-Russian militants were later overwhelmed by the much larger group of Ukrainian unity protesters, forcing them to retreat to and occupy the Trade Unions House.[201] Whilst defending the building, militants on the roof tossed rocks and petrol bombs at the protesters below, who responded in kind with petrol bombs of their own.[200][202] The building then caught fire.[202][203] In total, 43 people died during the clashes.[204] Thirty-one died whilst trapped in the burning Trade Unions House.[205] Police said at least three people were shot dead.[205][206]

In the aftermath of the clashes, on 4 May, the main Interior Ministry office in Odessa was attacked by pro-Russian protesters.[207] They demanded the release of their "comrades" who had participated in the clashes. The police complied, resulting in the freeing of 67 of those arrested.[207] By 5 May, the situation in Odessa had calmed, though the atmosphere remained extremely tense.[136]

Largest protests by date and attendance[]

The charts below show the locations, dates, and attendance rate of pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, and also of pro-Ukrainian counter-protests.

Pro-Russian protests[]

Protests by region City Peak attendees Date References
Sevastopol 30,000 23 Feb [208][unreliable source?][209]
Kerch 200 24 Feb [210]
Simferopol 5,000 26 Feb [211]
Odessa 5,000 1 Mar [212]
Mariupol 2,000–5,000 1 Mar [213][214]
Dnipropetrovsk 1,000–3,000 1 Mar [215]
Mykolaiv 5,000–6,000 2 Mar [216]
Kherson 400 2 Mar [217]
Donetsk 10,000 9 Mar [218]
Luhansk 10,000 22 Feb [219]
Kharkiv 2,000 6 Apr [220]
Zaporizhia 5,000+ 6 Apr [221][unreliable source?]

Pro-Ukraine counter protests[]

Protests by region City Peak attendees Date References
Kharkiv 30,000 22 Feb [222][unreliable source?]
Simferopol 10,000 26 Feb [223]
Dnipropetrovsk 10,000 2 Mar [224]
Sumy 10,000+ 2 Mar [225][226][227]
Mykolaiv 5,000–10,000 2 Mar [228]
Kiev 8,000 2 Mar [228]
Zaporizhia 5,000+ 2 Mar [229][230]
Chernihiv 2,000+ 2 Mar [227]
Zhytomyr 2,000 2 Mar [227]
Poltava 1,000+ 2 Mar [226]
Kirovohrad 100 9 Mar [231]
Kherson 3,000 22 Mar [232][233]
Odessa 10,000–15,000 30 Mar [234]
Kramatorsk 200 30 Mar [235]
Luhansk 1,000 13 Apr [236]
Donetsk 5,000–7,000 17 Apr [237][238]
Kramatorsk 1,000 17 Apr [239]
Kryvyi Rih 10,000+ 19 Apr [240]
Mariupol 1,000+ 23 Apr [241]
Cherkasy 4,050 1 May [242]

List of proclaimed breakaway states[]

Multiple breakaway states have been proclaimed by various groups during the unrest.


  •  Donetsk People's Republic – This was proclaimed on 7 April.[87] It controls large swathes of territory in Donetsk Oblast, and is supported by the insurgent Donbass People's Militia.[104] A referendum on the status of the Republic took place on 11 May.[243]
  • Luhansk People's Republic – This is the successor to the failed Luhansk Parliamentary Republic, proclaimed on 27 April.[165] Activists occupied the SBU building in Luhansk since 8 April, and controlled the city council, prosecutor's office, and police station by 27 April.[170] The regional administration announced its support for a referendum, and granted the governorship to separatist leader Valeriy Bolotov.[244] Like Donetsk, a referendum on the status of the region is took place on 11 May.[245]


  • Republic of Crimea – This was proclaimed on 17 March by the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. The two formerly separate entities within Ukraine unified and declared independence. This declaration was only recognized by the Russian Federation, which later annexed the state following a disputed referendum.

Failed proposals[]

  • Kharkov People's Republic – The Kharkov People's Republic was a short lived republic proclaimed on 7 April by protesters occupying the RSA building.[180] However, later that day, special forces retook the building, thereby ending the control the protesters had over the building.[180] However, on 21 April, during a rally, demonstrators elected a "people's governor", though it is unknown if this is connected to the former Republic.[162]
  • Luhansk Parliamentary Republic – This was a republic that was planned to be declared on 8 April.[156][158] Despite that, it is not known if it ever existed, and it is likely it was replaced by the Luhansk People's Republic.
  • Odessa People's Republic – This republic was allegedly declared by an internet group on 16 April, but local Antimaidan protesters said they had not made such a declaration.[246][247] Unlike Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk, pro-Russian protesters claimed they wanted Odessa to be an autonomous region within Ukraine, and not to join Russia.[161]
  • New Russia People's Republic - A failed proposal that called for the return of New Russia, a historic region that included most of eastern and southern Ukraine.[248]


Various international entities have warned all sides to reduce tensions in Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

  •  United Nations – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence that occurred in Eastern Ukraine over the weekend of 14–16 March and urged all parties "to refrain from violence and to commit themselves to de-escalation and inclusive national dialogue in the pursuit of a political and diplomatic solution."[249]
  • OSCE logo.svg Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – OSCE chairman-in-Office Didier Burkhalter condemned the detention of military inspectors from OSCE participating states in Sloviansk, and requested that they be released.[250] Burkhalter emphasized that the detention of the unarmed military inspectors was "unacceptable and that the safety of all international observers in the country must be guaranteed and ensured".[250] This incident, he said, "goes against the spirit of the recent Geneva Statement agreed upon by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Union aiming at de-escalating the situation and leading the way out of the challenging situation".[250] Burkhalter asked for involved parties "to resolve the crisis in Ukraine through inclusive dialogue".[250] In response to escalation across Ukraine on 2 May, OSCE Chief Monitor Ertugrul Apakan called for "all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid bloodshed and solve their differences peacefully".[251] Apakan said "There is a need for de-escalation…the Special Monitoring Mission is here to promote this objective. We are here for the people of Ukraine".[251]
  •  Russian Federation – Russia's Foreign Ministry stated in a 8 April 2014 statement on its official website ""We are calling for the immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war".[252] The ministry alleged that what it called "American experts from the private military organization Greystone" disguised as soldiers, as well as militants from the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector, had joined Ukrainian forces preparing for the crackdown in eastern Ukraine.[252] In an 7 April opinion piece in The Guardian, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov wrote it was the EU and US, and not Russia, that was guilty of destabilizing Ukraine ("the EU and US have been trying to compel Ukraine to make a painful choice between east and west, further aggravating internal differences") and that "Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine".[253][254][255]
  •  United States – US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed (on 7 April 2014) the conflict in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol a carefully orchestrated campaign with Russian support.[87][256] Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said that the United States has no doubt that Russians were behind the takeovers of government buildings in eastern Ukraine.[257] Geoffrey R. Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine, characterized the militants as terrorists.[258] On 30 April, it was revealed that John Kerry believed that phone tap evidence proved that the Kremlin was directing pro-Russian protests.[259]
  •  Germany – In response to the detention of the German-led international military verification mission, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated "The public parading of the OSCE observers and Ukrainian security forces as prisoners is revolting and blatantly hurts the dignity of the victims".[260][261]
  •  Ukraine – President Olexander Turchynov said on 30 April: "I would like to say frankly that at the moment the security structures are unable to swiftly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions back under control", and that security forces "tasked with the protection of citizens" were "helpless".[262]
  •  United Kingdom – In response to the Russian government's declared outrage over a Ukrainian offensive on Sloviansk, British Ambassador to the United Nations Sir Mark Lyall Grant said "The scale of Russian hypocrisy is breathtaking…Russia's synthetic indignation over Ukraine's proportionate and measured actions convinces no one".[263]
  •  Poland – Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said that the events in Ukraine "have the features of a situation of war".[264]
  •  Romania – A harsh exchange of words between officials in Moscow and Bucharest erupted in the context of Ukrainian crisis. Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government and one of the senior Russian officials sanctioned by the European Union and United States, stated on a social networking website that "upon the U.S. request, Romania has closed its airspace for my plane. Ukraine doesn't allow me to pass through again. Next time I'll fly on board TU-160".[265] Rogozin's statements have irritated the authorities in Bucharest that cataloged them as a threat.[266][267]
  •  Hungary – In the context of the unrest, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that ethnic Hungarians living in western Ukraine “must be granted dual citizenship, must enjoy all of the community rights and must be granted the opportunity for autonomy".[268]


During the course of the unrest, the United States, followed by the European Union, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, and Japan, began to sanction Russian and Ukrainian individuals and companies that they said were related to the crisis.[269][270][271][272][273][274][275] Announcing the first sanctions, the United States described some individuals targeted by sanctions, among them former Ukrainian president Yanukovych, as "threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for undermining Ukraine’s democratic institutions and processes".[273] The Russian government responded in kind with sanctions against some American and Canadian individuals.[271] With the unrest continuing to escalate, the European Union and Canada imposed further sanctions in mid-May.[276]

Geneva Statement on Ukraine[]

On 10 April 2014, Ukraine, the United States, Russia and the European Union agreed to a 17 April 2014 quadrilateral meeting in Geneva to try to negotiate an end to the crisis in Ukraine.[277] The meeting produced a document, called the Geneva Statement on Ukraine, which stated that all sides agreed that steps should be taken to "de-escalate" the crisis.[278][279] All four parties agreed that all "illegal military formations in Ukraine" must be dissolved, and that everyone occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave but that there would be an amnesty for all anti-government protesters under the agreement.[279] These steps will be overseen by monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).[279] The sides also agreed that the Constitution of Ukraine is also to be revised in a process that is "inclusive, transparent and accountable".[280] The agreement put on hold additional economic sanctions against Russia by the United States and the European Union.[280]

National unity talks[]

As part of an OSCE roadmap to solving the crisis in Ukraine, national unity talks are being held in Kiev, starting from 14 May.[281] Separatists from Donetsk and Luhansk are not represented, as the Ukrainian government has said that "those armed people who are trying to wage a war on their own country, those who are with arms in their hands trying to dictate their will, or rather the will of another country, we will use legal procedures against them and they will face justice". The OSCE said that Russian president Vladimir Putin supported the talks.[281]

Notable participants[]

Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, oversees the "anti–terrorist operation" in eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian activists[]


  • Pavel Gubarev (self-proclaimed 'People's Governor' of Donetsk)[282]
  • Robert Donya (self-proclaimed deputy 'People's Governor' of Donesk)[283]
  • Mikhail Chumachenko (leader of the self-styled 'Donbass People's Militia')[284]
  • Dmitry Kuzmenko (self-proclaimed 'People's Mayor' of Mariupol)[285]
  • Anton Davidchenko (leader of 'Borotba' Marxist-Leninist communist group in Odessa)[286]
  • Aleksandr Kharitonov (leader of 'Luhansk Guard' organization)[287]
  • Arsen Klinchaev (member of the Party of Regions, leader of separatists in Luhansk)
  • Yuri Apukhtin (leader of 'Great Rus' organization)

On 3 April, one man was arrested and eight more were put under house arrest on suspicion of involvement in the riots in Donetsk on 13 March, which led to the murder of Dmitry Cherniavsky.[288]

On 5 April, the SBU arrested a group of 15 people in Luhansk, along with 300 machine guns, one anti-tank grenade launcher, five pistols, petrol bombs and a large amount of smooth-bore guns and other weapons. "The group planned to carry out an armed seizure of power in Luhansk region on April 10 through intimidation of civilians using weapons and explosives," the SBU press office told Interfax-Ukraine.[289]

In Kharkiv, Antimaidan activist Ignat Kramskoy (nicknamed "Topaz") was placed under house arrest on 29 March for his alleged involvement in the 1 March raid on the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building.[290] On 7 April, Topaz fled house arrest, cutting off his monitoring bracelet.[291] Topaz has since given interviews with the Russian channel LifeNews, and spoken about the current 'guerrilla struggle' and need to use firearms to capture buildings.[292] Topaz was arrested once again while setting up an interview with Russia's Life News channel.[293]

On 12 April another saboteur was arrested by the SBU in Kharkiv, known as "K", who was tasked with organizing riots and capturing administrative buildings.[294] Later, 70 were arrested between the border of Poltava and Kharkiv. The men were travelling on a bus and found in possession of explosives, petrol bombs, bats, shields, helmets, knives, and other weapons.[295]

On 25 April, the SBU announced it had arrested two Ukrainian military members recruited by Russian intelligence.[296]

On 29 April the SBU arrested Spartak Holovachov and Yuri Apukhtin, leader of the Great Rus' organization in Kharkiv. Authorities claimed they were organized from abroad to plan riots in the city on 9 May, and upon searching their headquarters found guns, grenades, ammunition, cash, and separatist leaflets.[297][298]

Russian citizens[]

Former Putin adviser Andrey Illarionov, senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, estimates that at least 2,000 Russian intelligence officials are operating in eastern Ukraine.[299]

Ukrainian intelligence claims that it has a dossier on more than forty Russian military intelligence, or GRU, operatives arrested so far on Ukrainian soil and the weapons and ammunition seized after being transported across the border from Russia. The file is said to describe the role of an alleged GRU colonel, Igor Ivanovich Strielkov, who has been involved in agitation in the east, including his attempts to suborn Ukrainian soldiers with offers of cash.[300] The Ukraine Security Service have put out a wanted poster for Strielkov, accusing him of a series of charges, included premeditated murder and organizing mass riots.[301] Russia insists that the allegations are false, and that a Mr. Streilkov does not even exist or "at least not as a Russian operative sent to Ukraine with orders to stir up trouble".[302]


As of 19 April, the SBU had arrested 117 Russian extremists, all citizens of Russia.[303]

  • V. Makarov, an alleged spy from GRU was arrested in Chernihiv on 20 March 2014.[304]
  • Anton Rayevsky, a member of the Russian neo-Nazi group Black Hundreds, was arrested in Odessa and then deported for inciting ethnic hatred and violence.[305]
  • Roman Bannykh, an alleged military intelligence agent of the Russian GRU, was detained on 5 April 2014.[306]
  • Negrienko was arrested earlier in March 2014 for attempting to recruit Ukrainian police officers.[306]
  • Oleg Bakhtiyarov, a psychologist and a leader of the extremist Eurasian Youth Union, for allegedly planning to storm the Ukraine's parliament and Cabinet of Ministers buildings in Kiev by force. Bakhtiyarov, working under the guise of a civil society activist in Kiev, had recruited some 200 people for payment of $500 each to assist in storming the buildings and had stockpiled petrol bombs and various tools to carry out the provocation.[33] The mastermind also arranged, with some Russian TV channels, to film the incident, which would then be blamed on Ukrainian radicals.[307] Russian writer and the founder of the banned National Bolshevik Party, Eduard Limonov described Bakhtiyarov as: "a good guy, a psychiatrist, a commando, a vet of the War of Transnistria and a participant of in the city hall seizure".[307]
  • Dmitry Kolesnikov, a member of The Other Russia was arrested.[308]
  • Two Russian citizens (born in 1986 and 1987) were arrested in Lviv oblast on 2 April 2014, suspected of plotting to take several Ukrainians hostage, including a presidential candidate. In one of the suspect's cars was found a 200-gram TNT block, detonator, and 16 9×18mm Makarov rounds. Also found was a notebook with details of cars used by the presidential candidate and a timetable of his movements, a tablet with images of the targeted politician, as well as members of Lviv Regional Council, one former MP, photos of houses belonging to them, and plans for gaining access to them.[309]
  • Mariya Koleda, born 1991, arrested on 9 April 2014. Koleda is a Russian citizen who performed intelligence agencies' tasks to destabilize the situation in the southern regions of Ukraine. On 7 April, she took part in fights at the Mykolaiv Oblast Regional State Administration building using a firearm. She confessed to shooting and wounding three people. "She also reported on the preparation of two subversive groups (7 persons from Kherson and 6 people from Nova Kakhovka) to participate in riots in Donetsk," reports the SSU. Koleda is an active member of the pro-Putin "Russia molodaya" (aka "Rosmol"), appears to have worked at some point for Russia's Emergency Services Ministry, also appears to be closely connected to ultranationalist groups. Photos uploaded in 2012 show her training in hand-to-hand combat with Dmitry Dyomushkin, the leader of a neo-Nazi organization Slavic Union.[310][311][312]
  • On 13 April, Ukraine arrested an alleged Russian GRU operative.[313]
  • On 22 April, Ukraine's director of Ukraine's national security service announced that they had arrested 3 alleged Russian GRU agents.[314]
  • On 1 May, border guards arrested a Russian citizen was detained for planning separatist provocations in Luhansk. The man was a member of the neo-Nazi skinhead group 'Slavs' and had several swastika tattoos as well as a Nazi-branded knife.[315]

US involvement[]

Bild reported that FBI and CIA agents advise Ukrainian government on ending the insurgency in the east, building the security structure and fighting organized crime.[316] According to German media, on 29 April the German intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), informed German Chancellery and the ministers that there are around 400 contractors from a US private military company serving in Ukraine and assisting Kiev forces in the fight against rebels in Eastern and South Ukraine.[317] On 11 May, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Academi, Suzanne Kelly, denied the reports.[318]

Latvian citizen[]

  • A UK-based Latvian citizen Aijo Beness, an activist of Russia's National Bolshevik Party and The Other Russia, was arrested in Donetsk on 1 April 2014 for "preparation of an armed coup to overthrow the government and to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine".[319][320] Previously Aijo had stated he came to Ukraine to "protect Russians from Bandera."[319]

Alexander Dugin[]

On 29 March, Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, one of the founders of the National Bolshevik Party and known for his ties to Vladimir Putin, appeared in a leaked Skype video conference with Kateryna Gubareva, the wife of Donetsk-based separatist Pavel Gubarev. In the call, he reassured her of Moscow's support and further actions that should be taken by the movement. He also stated all presidential nominees should be considered 'traitors' with only Yanukovych considered legitimate. He also said that separatists should "act in a radical way" and Moscow will later support civil war in Ukraine, saying "The Kremlin is determined to fight for the independence of South-east Ukraine."[321][322] Following the video's release, a member of Dugin's Eurasian Youth Union (Oleg Bakhtiyarov) was arrested on 31 March for planning terrorist acts in Ukraine.[33]


Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire and governor of Dnipropetrovsk Igor Kolomoisky issued a $10,000 bounty for the apprehension of Russian agents. He also offered rewards for handing in weapons belonging to insurgents: $1,000 for each machine gun turned in to the authorities, $1,500 for every heavy machine gun and $2,000 for a grenade launcher.[323] On 19 April he issued his first $10,000 payout for the capture of a Russian saboteur.[324]


See also[]

  • Russians in Ukraine
  • Russian language in Ukraine
  • 1954 transfer of Crimea
  • 2014 Euromaidan regional state administration occupations


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Further reading[]

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