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.