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Insurgents Declare Independence

There is still time to halt the descent of Ukraine into full-blown conflict.

Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • Insurgent leader Denis Pushilin (c) walks through a crowd with his bodyguards after his news conference in Donetsk, Monday.
    Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) Pro-Moscow insurgents in eastern Ukraine declared independence Monday and sought to join Russia, undermining upcoming presidential elections, strengthening the Kremlins hand and putting pressure on Kiev to hold talks with the separatists following a referendum on self-rule.

Russia signaled it has no intention of subsuming eastern Ukraine the way it annexed Crimea in March. Instead, Moscow is pushing to include eastern regions in negotiations on Ukraines future suggesting that Russia prefers a political rather than a military solution to its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War.

Such talks are central to a potential path toward peace outlined Monday by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The plan laid out by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges immediate amnesty, talks on decentralization and the status of the Russian language.

But its up to the Ukrainian government to take the next step.

Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk pledged to hold a dialogue with Ukraines east. But he gave no specifics and stopped short of addressing Sundays referendum and the declarations of independence in the pro-Moscow regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

We would like to launch the broad national dialogue with the east, center, the west, and all of Ukraine, Yatsenyuk told a news conference in Brussels, adding that the agenda for talks should include changes to the constitution that would give more powers to the regions.

Ukraines central government and the West say the Kremlin has encouraged weeks of unrest in eastern Ukraine in a possible attempt to grab more land. Russia says thats not so, and accuses the West of meddling in a region that Moscow sees as its backyard.

With national presidential elections scheduled for May 25, the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence Monday, and those in Donetsk even asked to join Russia instead.

The sprawling areas along Russias border, home to about 6.6 million people, form Ukraines industrial heartland.

We, the people of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, based on the results of the May 11 referendum, declare that henceforth the Donetsk Peoples Republic will be deemed a sovereign state, Denis Pushilin, co-chairman of the insurgent government, said to applause Monday.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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