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19 Apr, 2014 15:30

‘We’re considered terrorists for anti-govt views’: Eastern Ukrainians fear Kiev crackdown

People in eastern Ukraine fear the worst is yet to come after Kiev authorities launched a military operation in eastern regions of the country. Residents in the town of Izyum in the Kharkov region share their worries with RT.

“The first military contingent began arriving at the start of this week,” Elena, a local resident from Izyum, told RT. The town’s people witnessed armored personnel carriers, helicopters and jets constantly flying above their heads.

“These are all said to be Ukrainian military and the National Guard with Right Sector members,” she added.

Elena said she was certain the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) had allowed the military to shoot at its own people as part of what they called an “anti-terrorist operation” that was launched against anti-government protesters in the north of the Donetsk Region, bordering the Kharkov Region on Tuesday.

“And we're all considered terrorists - if we express anti-government sentiments,” she said with regret.

Another town resident, Maksim, also witnessed Ukrainian air force jets constantly flying above his native town.

“There are checkpoints set up near the entrance to the city,” he told RT on Thursday.

Maksim told RT that a Russian flag was hoisted above the building of the Regional Executive Committee of the town on Wednesday. However, it has been removed by noon on Thursday.

Some people are afraid of another possible crackdown by the Kiev authorities on the eastern Ukraine, he said.

“Elderly people are afraid of the shooting. They fear that the situation in Izyum will repeat those events in Kiev,” he added.

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Tensions have been escalating in eastern Ukraine since March, when anti-government protesters in several cities, including Donetsk, Kharkov and Lugansk started seizing local administration buildings. The activists are demanding constitutional reform that would take into consideration the interests of all Ukrainian regions. They also propose the federalization of the country and to make Russian the second official language in the regions.

Russia warned Kiev against the use of force against these protesters saying that it could be very dangerous.

During four-sided talks in Geneva on Thursday, Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine adopted a joint document on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis. It called for all illegal armed groups to lay down their arms and a wide amnesty.

On Friday the military operation entered an “inactive phase” as Kiev authorities made promises about the status of the Russian language and called for “peace and unity.”