Alarm in Donetsk as people brace for Ukrainian forces attack
For the first time since the Monday attack, gunfire was heard at Donetsk’s airport and Ukrainian military helicopters and fighter jets reappeared above the area.
Meanwhile, residents of the eastern Ukrainian city have rushed to the shops, sweeping foodstuffs from the shelves, as many fear a full-scale storming of Donetsk is being launched.
“We fear that there will be a storming, and the shops will stop working,” a woman told RIA Novosti.
The most popular products bought are cereals, canned goods and water, as people expect a long-term assault amid very hot weather.
Many shops, banks and cafes have already been closed, and there are few people and cars seen on the streets, Itar-Tass reports. Schools are being evacuated and bomb shelter addresses are being distributed in the city’s districts. The Kiev forces have blocked almost all roads to and from Donetsk, the agency says.
The self-defense fighters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s
Republic withdrew from the areas of Monday’s battles to the
city’s center, barricading themselves inside administrative
buildings, including regional administration and Ukrainian
Security Service offices.
However, the people apparently do not feel safe anywhere in Donetsk, after Monday’s shooting at the city’s railway station, away from the airport area battleground. At least one woman was killed in the incident and two more civilians injured, including an 8-year-old boy.
The PM of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Boroday, meanwhile claimed that as many as 50 civilians and over 50 members of the self-defense were killed in clashes with the Ukrainian troops on Monday.
— Maria Finoshina (@MFinoshina_RT) May 27, 2014
While the civilian toll has so far been unconfirmed, there are numerous reports confirming a bloodbath near the Donetsk airport, in which a truck carrying dozens of injured self-defense fighters was shot at from the air and then destroyed “at point-blank range from a shoulder-launcher.” The survivors were allegedly finished off by snipers, according to the self-defense.
WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
In the Donetsk Region city of Slavyansk, at least three civilians were also killed in Ukrainian army shelling of several apartment blocks.
A Twitter campaign against the Ukrainian military operation in Donetsk has been launched under the hashtag #SaveDonbassPeople. Hundreds of Twitter posts with tagged selfies together with a combination of photos showing civilians killed in eastern Ukraine have appeared since early Tuesday.
— Антимайдан (@anti_maydan) May 27, 2014
Donbas miners rising
Following the start of the latest wave of Kiev’s offense, workers
at several mines in Donetsk have gone on strike. The action has
been launched indefinitely in protest of the military operation
carried out by government troops against anti-Kiev forces.
“Miners from the Skochinskogo, Abakumova, Chelyuskintsev, Trudovskaya mines have not been working today,” strikers, negotiating with the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), told RIA Novosti. “People have been standing by the entrances, not wanting to go underground, they are having rallies demanding the suspension of military actions.”
The industrial region of Donbas is strongly associated with
mining and metallurgy, and the miners are believed to be a
powerful driving force there. There have only been a few
incidents of strikes at the mines since the start of the
Ukrainian crisis, with workers being under pressure of losing
their jobs and wages if they walk out.
On Sunday, hundreds of people in Donetsk besieged the residence of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who owns much of eastern Ukraine’s industrial companies, demanding that he take the side of the protesters and start paying taxes to DNR, instead of Kiev. Akhmetov, who initially issued statements against the military operation, has recently taken Kiev’s side, reportedly pressing his employees to start taking part in “anti-separatist” rallies.
RT’s sources in Donetsk working at Akhmetov-controlled companies said that employees were gathered en-masse at the city’s Donbass Arena stadium. They have been ordered to attend anti-DNR rallies under a threat of losing their jobs.