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You're reading: Donetsk: Eastern Ukraine descends into chaos, lawlessness
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 Pro-Russian separatists have captured strategically important buildings and claimed to have installed their own “people’s governments,” whose representatives are preparing to hold a referendum on independence from Ukraine on May 11 contravention of Ukraine’s constitution.

Amid the lawlessness stoked by the Kremlin, police here have vanished, replaced by pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic’s law enforcers. A hotline residents can call to report incidents has been set up.

Several hundred armed – and jumpy – rebels patrol the city in search of dissenters ahead of the impending illegal referendum. They roam the streets with itchy trigger fingers and a sense of impunity, nabbing drunks and anyone deemed a threat or a spy, dragging them into buildings barricaded with sandbags, discarded objects and razor wire.

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