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Street violence erupts in Eastern Ukraine as U.S. announces sanctions on Putin allies

April 28, 2014 at 6:15 PM EST
Ukraine street violence
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GWEN IFILL: Tensions in Eastern Ukraine spilled over into more violence today, as the Obama administration announced additional sanctions on Russian leaders and companies with close ties to President Putin.

Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has this report.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Tonight, those who support Ukraine held a march in the eastern town of Donetsk, protected, supposedly, by the police.

But pro-Russian thugs soon disrupted the rally, beating up demonstrators with batons and stones. Several were injured, and the demonstrators forced to flee. Those agitating in favor of Russia deny they’re doing Moscow’s bidding, but the U.S. government sees President Putin’s hand, and today imposed further sanctions on some of the Russian leader’s closest friends.

Seventeen organizations or companies are sanctioned, including some controlled by Putin associates Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire, and Arkady Rotenberg, his old judo partner and childhood friend.

Amongst the seven individuals sanctioned are Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, and Igor Sechin, the president of Rosneft, the world’s largest traded oil company.

Sechin, one of President Putin’s closest advisers, is sanctioned as an individual, but it’s hard to separate the man from the company, Rosneft. Here he is a year ago with the head of BP, Bob Dudley.

ROBERT DUDLEY, BP: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great for me to welcome Igor Ivanovich here at BP today. And I think this is the beginning today of a great partnership between BP and Rosneft.

LINDSEY HILSUM: BP has a 20 percent stake in Rosneft, to which it said today it remained committed. Rosneft said the sanctions wouldn’t affect cooperation with its partners, but the company share price dropped, as did its credit rating.

In the city of Kharkiv today, the deputy mayor was shot in the back. As Ukraine grows more lawless, the E.U. is to announce further sanctions on Russia tomorrow. Europe is one step behind the U.S. because of its closer economic ties to Russia, but they’re trying to give an impression of unity.

Earlier today, Kostiantynivk became the latest town to join the balaclava republic, as pro-Russian demonstrators took over the local administration building. Western sanctions may be hurting some Russian individuals, but there’s no sign that they are deterring President Putin from continuing to stir it up in Ukraine.