KIEV, April 7 (Xinhua) -- A group of pro-Russian activists, which had seized government buildings in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk, proclaimed the region's independence from Kiev on Monday, local media reported.
The protesters announced the creation of People's Republic of Donetsk and set a referendum for May 11 to validate the decision.
The activists called on Russia to send a "peacekeeping mission" to Donetsk if Kiev blocked the vote.
The move came after pro-Russian demonstrators seized the government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities - Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov - Sunday night, demanding that referendums be held to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
An overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to join Russia at a similar referendum in the Crimean peninsula on March 16.
Two days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty to make Crimea and the city of Sevastopol part of Russian territory.
Meanwhile, acting President Alexandr Turchynov vowed on Monday to launch a major counter-terrorism operation against separatist movements in the country's eastern regions.
"We will carry out anti-terrorist activities against armed secessionists," Turchynov said in a nationwide address.
Ukrainian authorities had set up a special anti-crisis headquarters and tightened control on the country's eastern borders in a bid to suppress separatism, he said.
Turchynov blamed Russian intelligence agencies for aiding Ukraine's secessionists, saying that Moscow was willing to "destabilize the situation in Ukraine by overthrowing the government and disrupting presidential elections."
Solutions to Ukraine crisis lie in constitutional reform, end of foreign interference: Russia
MOSCOW, April 4 (Xinhua) -- All tools to overcome the current crisis in Ukraine are inside it exclusively, and any foreign involvement in Ukraine's affairs must be stopped, Moscow said Friday.
The only way out of the difficult situation in Ukraine lies in constitutional reform and the end of foreign interference in the country's domestic affairs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters following a meeting of foreign ministers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Full story
Ukraine accuses Slovakia of blocking reverse gas flow
BRATISLAVA, April. 4 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan has accused Slovakia from blocking the launch of reverse gas flows across its territory to Ukraine, spokesman of Slovakia's gas-pipeline operator Eustream told Xinhua on Friday
Ukraine also blamed Slovakia for not admitting its experts to inspect the facilities before the reverse flow as such can be initiated,according to spokesman Vahram Chuguryan.Full story
Ukrainian economy to shrink by 3 pct in 2014: WB
KIEV, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank (WB) on Friday predicted a 3-percent contraction for the Ukrainian economy in 2014 compared with the growth of 1.5 to 2 percent estimated in October.
The bank cited Ukraine's ongoing political crisis, increased economic imbalances, decline in consumer demand and lack of fresh investment as reasons for the gross domestic product (GDP) performance revision. Full story