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Steel Workers Storm the Streets of Mariupol and Take Control of the City
Steel workers in Mariupol stormed the streets on Thursday and took control of the city from pro-Russian militants who have fled and are now nowhere to be seen.
Miners and steel workers have dispersed to at least five other cities, including the regional capital, Donetsk. However, they do not have as much control as they do in Mariupol.
With only hard-hats for protection, the workers have begun their task of establishing order in Mariupol. Along with police, they stormed the city’s streets; with backhoes and dump trucks, the workers tore down barricades constructed by the militants; with will, power, and determination the workers continued regaining control of the city. They retook control of government buildings that had previously been taken by pro-Russian activists several weeks ago.
The workers divided into two groups, one group from the Azov Steel mill took one side of the city while the other group from the Ilych Steel factory took the other side.
“We have to bring order to the city,” Aleksei Gorlov, a steelworker, told The New York Times. He went on to state his reasons for joining one of the unpaid, voluntary patrols that were organized at the Ilych Steel works. The patrols are broken up into groups of six or so steel workers along with two policemen.
Yuri Zinchenko, chief executive of Ilych Steel, is leading the steelworker patrols in the city.
The company had remained on the sidelines during the current crisis for as long as possible while still indirectly supporting the Kiev government by telling its workers that a separatist victory would lead to export markets in Europe being closed, which would result in devastating effects on the factory and the city.
By Thursday night, the pro-Russian militants, who had just recently declared their Donetsk People’s Republic throughout the region, were nowhere to be seen.
The steelworkers were welcomed by the residents for hopefully bringing an end to the chaos and insecurity that falls over not only Mariupol, but almost all of eastern Ukraine.
The citizens of Mariupol said that masked men had robbed a hunting store, four grocery stores, and a jewelry store, and had burned down a bank.
The workers who stormed the streets are employees of Rinat Akhmetor, Ukraine’s richest man and a pro-Unity supporter, who on Wednesday released a statement rejecting Donetsk People’s Republic, but endorsing greater local autonomy.
Metinvest and DTEK, the two subsidiaries in metal and mining of Mr. Akhmeotor’s company, System Capital Management, employ a total of 280,000 people in eastern Ukraine. A number of this size could play a large role against the newly founded Donetsk People’s Republic.
Both companies have a history of political activism, most notably their role in in the miner strikes that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It wasn’t until now that they signed their alliance to one of the two prominent sides in Ukraine.
There are roughly 50,000 people who work in steelworks in Mariupol, 18,000 of which have signed up for the patrols, Metinvest has stated.
Mariupol is the second largest city in Donetsk oblast region with a population of 492,176. It saw bloody clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian militants last week that resulted in at least a dozen deaths.
Whether or not the pro-Russian activists will regroup and attempt to regain control of the city waits to be seen.
Several Dead in Anti-Terror Operations against Pro-Russians
The final stage of “anti-terror” operations against pro-Russian militants in Kramatorsk is underway, according to operational data from Information Resistance.
Ukrainian special forces have surrounded the city, trapping the militants inside who have taken cover inside residential buildings with civilians still inside.
The leaders of the operation are taking measures to ensure that the peaceful residents still inside the buildings are not hurt in the attack on the pro-Russian rebels.
So far, some Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded but none have been killed.
The militants have lost several men, but there is no exact information on how many.
Self-Proclaimed “People’s Governor” of Donetsk Threatens “Total Annihilation” of Ukrainian Forces
On Thursday, Pavlo Gubarev, the self-proclaimed “people’s governor” of Donetsk, threatened “total annihilation” of Ukraine forces in Donetsk if they did not withdraw from the region within an hour.
However, the hour has passed and there has been no reports of clashes between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian activist, besides the “anti-terror” operation in Kramatorsk.