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Pro-Russian separatists who seized a provincial building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have reportedly declared an independent "people's republic" in a move that echoes last month's events leading to the secession of Crimea.

You can see video of the scuffle between police and protesters that led up to the storming of the building here.

After the takeover of the building one Russian-speaker appeared at a podium, proclaiming "the creation of the sovereign state of the People's Republic of Donetsk," according to Al-Jazeera. The Associated Press reports that afterward "a barricade of car tires and razor wire" was erected outside the building to keep police from retaking it.

Ukrainian police responded by closing all roads leading into the city.

"Unknown people who are in the building have broken into the building's arsenal and have seized weapons," police said in a statement on Monday.

The BBC reports:

"The rebels have called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by 11 May.

"Ukrainian security officials are being sent to the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv after pro-Russia groups occupied government buildings.

"Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov called the unrest an attempt by Russia to 'dismember' Ukraine.

"In an address on national TV, he said it was 'the second wave' of a Russian operation to destabilise Ukraine, overthrow the government and disrupt planned elections."

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