No sign of crackdown as Ukraine deadline passes

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

A Ukrainian government deadline for pro-Russian protesters to lay down their arms and leave occupied buildings passed Monday with no sign of it being heeded in the eastern cities of Donetsk or Slaviansk.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given the protesters until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces.

But the deadline passed with no movement at the regional government building in Donetsk, which has been occupied for more than a week, and where barricades have been strengthened in the last few days.

In Slaviansk, pro-Russian protesters milled around with makeshift shields outside the occupied police station.

Similar deadlines in the past passed with no consequence.

Turchynov had issued a promise of amnesty for the activists — made up of protesters as well as armed militants who in recent days have stormed public buildings and planted Russian flags on them — in eastern Ukraine but warned that anyone who continues to support the takeover of government buildings would be held responsible for their actions.

“We’ll not allow any repetition of the Crimean scenario in the east of Ukraine. I have signed a decree that would allow those who did not shoot at our officers to lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings by Monday morning without fear of being prosecuted,” he said.

Turchynov added that anyone who supports violence will be punished.

“We are ready to consider a significant expansion of regional powers of all regions and the wider reform of local self-government. However, all those supporting aggressors and occupiers in an armed struggle against our country will not escape punishment and will be prosecuted,” he said.

No top Ukrainian officials immediately posted any updates to mark the passing of the deadline.

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