Moscow uses man's death to warn of intervention in Ukraine
Published 15/03/2014 | 02:30
RUSSIA has seized on the death of a young man during a demonstration in eastern Ukraine to warn it will protect "compatriots" threatened by political instability in its former Soviet neighbour.
A statement from the foreign ministry in Moscow was the most explicit statement yet that Russia is preparing for a cross-border intervention in Donetsk that could split Ukraine into two or more pieces.
"Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of compatriots and fellow citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take people under its protection," it said.
The statement came as Donetsk officials confirmed that 22-year-old Dmytro Chernyavskiy, an activist for a nationalist political party, had been stabbed to death in late-night clashes that injured 45.
Crowds of pro-Ukrainian protesters came under a barrage of fire crackers, stones and other projectiles from pro-Russian rivals in the city's Lenin Square. The right-wing party Svoboda, which is hostile to Russia and anti-immigration, said the dead man was one of its local activists.
Sergei Taruta, the billionaire governor of Donetsk, said the attackers broke through police lines. He described policing of the event as "adequate but insufficient".
"We have offered our condolences and help to the family of Dmytro Chernyavsky," he said.
Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, blamed Russia for the "very worrying" developments in the city. "Pro-Russian thugs very active," he wrote on Twitter. "Very important to avoid any provocation."
Four people have been arrested for instigating the attack and American officials said there were credible reports that agitators had been bussed in from Russia to create an "atmosphere of intimidation" in the city. (© Daily Telegraph, London)