Pro-Independence Activists on Alert in Donetsk

World Today

Pro-independence activists are on alert — in case Ukrainian troops decide to move into their city next. CCTV’s Roza Kazan continues our team coverage from nearby Donetsk.

Pro-Independence Activists on Alert in Donetsk

Pro-Independence Activists on Alert in Donetsk

Pro-independence activists are on alert -- in case Ukrainian troops decide to move into their city next. CCTV's Roza Kazan continues our team coverage from nearby Donetsk.
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The so-called self-defense forces in what’s become the headquarters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

As the man checkpoints, they appear to have no weapons.

But that may soon change.

Starting on Friday, the DPR has granted its militia the right to bear arms.

Vladimir Makovich, speaker of the Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic, says: “To enforce peace and calm on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, and to react to the threats of the lives, health and security of the citizens of the DPR and to exclude the acts of aggression by the illegal government in power in Kiev.”

Having witnessed the assault by the Ukrainian army on the much smaller towns of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, two strategic getaways just an hour and-a-half’s drive from Donetsk – the pro-independence movement believes this city could be next. If that happens, they want an international peace keeping force to help prevent bloodshed.

Denis Pushilin, Co-Chairman of the Council of the Donestk People’s Republic, says: “Of course, we will try to do everything we can with our own forces, as much as we can. But if the conflict worsens, of course, we will be forced to ask for a peacekeeping contingent to be sent in.”

Some of this building’s occupiers admit they have military training–having served in the Soviet army when Ukraine was still a Soviet republic. Some seem fresh out college.

They’ve been setting up defenses as best they can.

Dmitry Vladych, Commander of the DPR self-defense, says: “Last night, we performed drills; every one of us knows exactly what to do in case there is subversive attack.”

The defenders tell me a gas attack is also a threat, using grenades launched from as far as 300 meters away to get past the barricades.

This is the second ring of the barricades, made out of tires, barbed wire, and stones. But if the government decides to use mortars to dislodge protesters from this building, these barricades are not going to be much help.

The defenders admit that if the Ukrainian Army orders special forces to breach the building, there will be little they can do, but they say they will stand and fight.