One of the pro-Russia demonstrators who have taken over a government building in Donetsk stands guard outside with a pitchfork.Alexander Khudoplety / AFP / Getty Images
Among several points that Moscow has pushed in its talks with the United States, the European Union and others is the concept of “federalization,” or giving more administrative powers to regional governments. That’s an idea that has been cautiously supported in Kiev and Western capitals, though many fear that too much devolution of authority to the regions would allow Moscow to manipulate local governments to its benefit.
At the administration building in Donetsk, the encampment has grown substantially since the building was initially seized on Sunday, with concert-style amplifiers regularly broadcasting Russian state-sponsored newscasts and speakers exhorting those gathered to help keep the grounds clean. One hand printed signs read “Russia, Putin: help protect us from (the) Kiev junta and (the) dirty paws of the U.S.!”
“We’re not pigs. Keep things neat, show journalists that we can maintain order,” one speaker yelled to the crowd. “We will continue to fight and we will be victorious.”
Though the inside of the building looked like small riot had swept through — nearly every office and every corridor in the 11-floor building was ransacked — activists continued trying to organize some sort of operational structure. In some corridors, women swept cigarettes butts and trash into piles, while men carried out huge trash bags down flights of stairs.
Miscellaneous signs, both hand written and printed on computers, asked for volunteers to help in the kitchen, and warned that “provocateurs will be forced to clean the toilets, if discovered.” One sign gave instructions on how to defend the building from snipers.
Outside the main auditorium on the building’s 2nd floor, three men in masks, carrying clubs on their belts, appeared chagrined after a woman yelled at them to wash their hands with baby wipes before helping themselves to open-face sandwiches and tea in plastic cups. Another group gazed blankly at a television broadcasting a show with instructions about how to fit a brassiere properly. (“Useful, no?” said a woman, smirking as she made sandwiches)