Pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine smashed their way into public buildings and burned Ukrainian-language books on Sunday in further protests following two deadly clashes in the region last week.
Protests, some several thousand strong, spread to Russian-speaking southern districts as Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, under the control of the Russian military for two weeks, voted in a referendum on joining Russia.
Violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians are in the majority, has prompted warnings from Moscow that it is prepared to “defend” the rights of residents who disagree with the new pro-Western authorities in Kiev.
Clashes have broken out when rival rallies take place in proximity – pro-Russian groups against others backing the call by Ukraine’s leaders for closer ties with the European Union.
The Kiev authorities, who have denounced the pro-Russian protests in the east as the work of “Kremlin agents”, came to power after three months of often violent protests culminated in the removal of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich.
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