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Thousands in Ukraine's Donetsk rally for Crimea split

Published on Mar 16, 2014 10:08 PM
 
Thousands of pro-Russian protesters in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk rallied on Sunday, March 16, 2014, in support of Crimea's right to join Russia and to press for their own referendum. -- PHOTO: AFP

DONETSK, Ukraine (AFP) - Thousands of pro-Russian protesters in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk rallied on Sunday in support of Crimea's right to join Russia and to press for their own referendum.

"Donetsk, Crimea, Russia," chanted the crowd massed in front of a towering statue of Lenin in the main square of the city, which has a Russian-speaking majority and was a former stronghold of deposed president Viktor Yanukovych.

The protest came as Crimeans were voting in a referendum on joining Russia that has fomented a Cold War-style security crisis on Europe's eastern frontier.

"If the Crimean people want to have a referendum and live independently, it's not a crime," Ms Larisa, a woman in her 50s, said at the rally in Donetsk, which has been the scene of some of the worst violence in Ukraine since a popular uprising ousted pro-Kremlin Yanukovych last month.

 
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