In Eastern Ukraine, deadline passes for protesters to quit occupation

Even though a deadline passed for demonstrators to vacate government premises, pro-Russian protesters continue to seize government buildings in Ukraine cities, Slovyansk and Luhansk, with no consequences in sight. Video by Associated Press

Armed pro-Russian men seize police station in Slovyansk, Ukraine, while pro-Russian forces hold SBU building in Luhansk, Ukraine.

A 2 a.m. EDT deadline, set by acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, passed Monday without any action to make pro-Russian protesters vacate government buildings in Eastern Ukraine.

Horlivka became the 10th city or town in Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine where activists have overrun police stations or government buildings and planted Russian flags. Turchynov had offered the protesters amnesty in exchange for laying down their arms.

Turchynov also has asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for international peacekeepers to join forces with the Ukrainian military. The authority for such a request, which Turchynov deemed an “anti-terrorist operation,” would require the approval of the U.N. Security Council, of which Russia is a member.

At an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Sunday, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said Ukrainians must stop fighting each other. “The international community must demand the stooges of Maidan stop the war against their own people,” he was quoted as saying. Maidan Square in Kiev is where protests led to the overthrow of then-President Viktor Yanukovych, who was sympathetic to Russia.

Peter Leonard of the Associated Press describes the mood in Slovyansk, another town where buildings are occupied by gunmen, on PBS NewsHour Weekend.

Presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for May 25. Turchynov said if a referendum is held in tandem, most Ukrainians would vote for keeping the country in one piece.

View the PBS NewsHour’s reporting from Ukraine in March.