Pro-Russian activists removed the Ukrainian flag from the roof of the Kharkov city hall, having replaced it with the Russian flag. Those taking part in the meeting in front of the city hall also removed the flag of the European Union. Hundreds of people came to the city hall to support incumbent regional governor Mikhail Dobkin and Mayor Gennady Kernes.
Kernes himself protested against the removal of the yellow-blue flag of Ukraine, reminding the protesters that Kharkov was a part of Ukraine. Kernes was a determined opponent of Maidan riots, and supported the new Ukrainian authorities after the resignation of Viktor Yanukovych. Mikhail Dobkin plans to run for president in an election that will be held on May 25.
A similar rally was held in Simferopol, the capital of the Crimea. Local residents hoisted the Russian flag on the building of the local parliament. About 500 participants of the rally demanded the Crimea should separate from the rest of Ukraine.
The chairman of the Russian Community of the Crimea, deputy of the Supreme Council Sergei Tsekov shared his views with Pravda.Ru on what Crimean residents are going to do if the authorities show no due respect to them.
"Russia's position on Ukraine's integrity has become clear. Russia wants only one Ukraine, not tow or three. The situation may worsen if the Kiev government (although we do not recognize its power) continues to show total disregard for the Crimea.
The laws that they now take in Kiev are clearly anti-Russian. They cause very great indignation with the Crimean residents. If they do not fix, or better yet, if they do not cancel the law about the language policy, then it will lead to adequate consequences in the Crimea. Various decisions are likely to be made in this case, including the ones connected with the separation of the Crimea from Ukraine. If they show respect, and if we feel, among other things, a warming of relations between Ukraine and Russia, then it would not happen, of course. Naturally , the question of separatist actions would be taken off the agenda. We, the Russian Crimeans, indigenous Crimeans, we always say in 70 percent of cases that it was better for the Crimea to be a part of Russia. That is, we constantly have separatist sentiments, but they have never taken the form of any certain decision. We have always understood that separation means blood.
"The delegation of the State Duma left the Crimea yesterday. We were told that Russia would protect its compatriots in the Crimea. What kind of protection this can be - time will show."
The Director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements Boris Kagarlitskiy shared his views in an interview with Pravda.Ru about the intention of Western countries to push Ukraine towards the association with the EU.
"It's certainly not about the EU in general, but about the bureaucracy in Brussels, which commands the European Commission. Their agenda is quite obvious and simple. They want, above all, to undermine the level of wages of European workforce. Therefore, they need to create mass unemployment in Ukraine to make people work for a half or a quarter of what people normally get in Western Europe. These workers would not have appropriate legal safeguards, that is they would not be able to go on strikes. They want to create a class of guest workers, whom they could easily throw out of the country in 2-3 hours when necessary. Simply put, Western European entrepreneurs need Ukrainians as Russian entrepreneurs need Tajiks and Uzbeks.
"For the European society, especially for Germany, France and Italy, the association agreement with the EU is fraught with a social catastrophe. Trade unions and common people do not want this, but there are people in Brussels, a part of European entrepreneurs, who believe that only a sharp decline in wages will make European industry competitive with China. This is the main objective of the association agreement.
"A secondary objective is a sales market for European goods. Some people think that it is important for Western companies to get hold of the Ukrainian market, but this is not true, because, in fact, the capacity of the Ukrainian market is quite small. If the requirements of the proposed association agreement are eventually met, living standards in the country will collapse together with the national industry, and the Ukrainian market will shrink even more. The main task today is to destroy the Ukrainian industry to trigger mass unemployment there.
"The governments of France and the UK have a common policy with Brussels to dismantle the European welfare state. It is vital for the government to force people accept a lower standard of living. To do this, one needs to reduce the standard of living even more. If you take the living standard down, chances for people to ask for more will go down as well.
"Poland still has vivid memories of the grandeur of Rzeczpospolita, so they want to have their hands on Western Ukraine at least to make it a sphere of their influence. These are absolutely nostalgic imperial ambitions.
"As for the United States, economic interests of the United States are, to a greater degree, connected with the Ukrainian market. One should bear in mind the fact that the association agreement was prepared and remains on the agenda of the parallel agreement on the Transatlantic free trade zone. This agreement implies the absence of any customs barriers for U.S. products throughout Europe."