Jeroen Oerlemans

Donetsk, Ukraine

At a rally in front of Donetsk Oblast (Region) administrative building, pro-russian activists protest against NATO and EU support of the present interim government. In repeated rallies that earlier in the week resulted in storming and occupying of the building, protesters called for greater autonomy from Kiev and a referendum on secession. Some people wave the flag of the short lived Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic, a unit within post Russian Revolution Ukraine that was soon after absorbed into Ukraine.
Donetsk is the largest city of the Donets Basin (Donbas) region, an area that is the centre of Ukraine's coal mining and steel industry. The Donbas region used to be the power base of Viktor Yanukovych, the now deposed former president, who has fled to Russia where he is being supported by the Russian government as the rightful head of state of Ukraine.
Protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych were sparked on 21 November 2013 by the Ukrainian government's decision to suspend preparations for the signing of an association agreement with the European Union that would have increased trade with the EU. Some believe that the U-turn came about as a result of pressure from President Putin of Russia who wants Ukraine to join a customs union with itself, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Russia offered 15 billion dollars of soft loans and reduced price gas to Ukraine at the same time as discussions with the EU were taking place. After weeks of protests and a number of deaths, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the entire cabinet resigned. Protesters continued to hold out, however, occupying public buildings and squares and calling on the president to resign. On 18 February, after Yanukovych's party scuppered a move to change the constitution to reduce the powers of the president, renewed fighting between protesters and police broke out which cost the lives of over 80 people by Friday 21st February. By 22 February Yanukovych had fled Kiev. Since Yanukovych's

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Jeroen Oerlemans
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