Pro-Russian rallies held in Donetsk, Kharkiv

Several thousand people gathered for a pro-Russian rally near the heavily guarded Donetsk regional administration headquarters on Sunday.

Several thousand people gathered for a pro-Russian rally near the heavily guarded Donetsk regional administration headquarters on Sunday.

Although several hundred policemen were deployed near the building, about 50 demonstrators managed to break the gates and enter the courtyard. They are chanting: "Crimea - Donbass-Russia!" Some of them are holding Russian flags. But most of the demonstrators remain outside the courtyard. They are holding flags, posters and Russian victory ribbons.

Dozens of activists made their way into the second floor through a smashed window. They set up Russian tricolor flags and a banner of the Donetsk Republic on the entrance roof overhang.

Demonstrators have removed the Ukrainian flag from the mast near the building and fixed a Russian flag.

A water cannon truck has pulled up at the building.

Simultaneously, two rallies are being held in Kharkiv's Liberty Square in support of a referendum on Ukraine's federalization.

Some of the demonstrators have gathered near the monument to Lenin, a traditional gathering place. They are holding Russian tricolor flags, as well as flags of the public movement Borotba. Posters in support of the Berkut police force and in memory of the policemen killed in clashes in Kiev, can be seen on the monument.

Demonstrators with flags of the Southeast public moment, and of the Ukrainian Communist Party, the Soviet Union and Russia have set up an improvised stage in the middle of the square. They are holding posters reading "Russia, Ukraine, Belarus! One Nation! Common History! Common Future!"

Both rallies have brought together about 1,500 participants, according to police.

Read more: Is the crisis in Ukraine a plum ripe for picking?

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