Pro-Moscow youths reclaim Ukraine regional HQ

Pro-Russian demonstrators hold a rally outside the regional government building in Donetsk

Pro-Moscow youths recaptured the administrative headquarters of the eastern city of Donetsk and flew the Russian flag from its roof on Wednesday, hours after Kiev’s authorities managed to fly their own flag there for the first time since Saturday.

While the group of a few hundred pro-Moscow activists was recapturing the building, however, a far larger demonstration was gathering elsewhere in the city in favor of the authorities in Kiev, a sign that the tide of local opinion is turning against Moscow’s allies in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking heartland.

The pro-Moscow demonstrators, who once numbered over 1,000 but now appear reduced to a few hundred, first seized the regional administration building in deposed leader Viktor Yanukovich’s home town on Monday. Ukrainian police persuaded them to leave on Wednesday after announcing a bomb threat in the building, and the Ukrainian flag was raised once they had left.

Their leader, a local businessman named Pavel Gubarev, calls himself the “people’s governor” and has demanded that the regional police answer to his orders.