Over 200 masked men occupied city hall in eastern Ukraine

At least 200 men wearing camouflage and balaclavas occupy Kharkov City Hall, eastern Ukraine

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

More than 200 people wearing camouflage and balaclavas (a sort of snow mask) occupied a local administration building in the city of Kharkov, eastern Ukraine on Wednesday.

The perpetrators believed to be members of Azov Battalion, given the insignias they held, who are far-right group and all-volunteer infantry military unit forming part of military reserve of National Guard of Ukraine.

International watchdogs report that the far-right group is accused of committing numerous human rights violations in eastern Ukraine.

The masked men clashed with police and security forces at the administration building.

According to Ukrainian Channel 112, those who have occupied the building had also tear gas.

“There have been several small clashes between police and people in balaclavas. A few minutes ago somebody let off tear gas. The entrance to the city council is surrounded by a tight police cordon,” a journalist at the scene, from the Channel 112 reported.

Early in the morning, more than 50 people wearing camouflage and balaclavas had taken part in a protest in front of the residence of a local politician, Mikhail Dobkin.

Dobkin is a Ukrainian politician, former governor of Kharkiv Oblast, former mayor of Kharkiv, and former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Dobkin also represents ‘Opposition Bloc’ political party. The party wants to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution over the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The masked men were protesting without any demand but as reported they aimed “to throw Dobkin out of the city and not to let Kernes become Kharkov mayor,” according to the Channel 112.

Before Dobkin, Kharkov was administered by Gennady Kernes since 2010.

After President Viktor Yanukovich was removed from office in February 2014, Kernes also was removed from power as well.

The Ukrainian press later reported that the protesters had evacuated the building and departed from the scene.

TRTWorld and agencies