Pro-Russia protesters storm regional government building in Donetsk

Around 100 pro-Russian protesters stormed the regional government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Sunday and hung up a Russian flag in defiance of Kiev’s pro-European government.

Dozens of protesters also stormed the offices of the state security service in nearby Luhansk and three people were injured, two protesters and a police officer, a Ukrainian television channel reported. Police declined to comment.

Mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk, the hometown of pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovich, has seen a sharp rise in tensions since his ouster and the installation of a pro-European government in Kiev.

Branding the new Kiev government illegitimate, Russia has annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region citing threats to its Russian-speaking majority, a move that has sparked the biggest standoff between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

More than 1,000 people protested in a main square in Donetsk, an industrial city, before breaking into the regional administrative building where they hung a Russian flag from a second floor balcony, a Reuters witness said.

The protesters outside cheered and chanted “Russia!”.