: Azov Battalion marches in Kyiv against local elections in Donbas (video, photos)

11:48 May. 21, 2016

Azov Battalion marches in Kyiv against local elections in Donbas (video, photos)

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Activists set off firecrackers but no clashes reported

On May 20, Ukraine's Azov Battalion (Civilian Corps and Regiment) spearheaded a march in central Kyiv under the motto 'No Back Down Is What Nation Demands'. They protested the Minsk agreements and the holding of elections in the separatist-held Donbas.

The organisers say, it will lead to the ultimate loss of government control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Read also Azov battalion spearheads unity march to ‘cleanse' Kyiv streets of communist past

According to Ukraine's police, nearly 2,000 people took part in the rally, whereas organizers said about 8,000 activists were brought together. The march resulted in a rally outside Ukraine's Parliament building (Verkhovna Rada). The protest was held in a peaceful manner, but from time to time the activists would set off firecrackers and flares.

Ukraine's European partners insist on running local elections in the occupied territories of Ukraine. According to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the vote should take place until July of this year. He called on the parties to work on developing the election laws for Donbas.

Kyiv insists that the local elections in the militant-held territories must be held under the Ukrainian law involving Ukrainian parties, official observers and journalists. Separatists do not accept these terms while Russia demands amnesty for militants.

President Petro Poroshenko said, that he does not exclude a possibility of holding the local elections in Donbas before the end of this year. Poroshenko said one of the conditions for the elections to be conducted is a stable ceasefire monitored by an armed interntational mission on the contact line between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatist forces, and on the border with Russia.

Formerly a volunteer formation, The Azov battalion is now part of the National Guard. It is infamous for stoking nationalist sentiment. It has been a reliable force in Ukraine's fight against a Russian-backed insurgency in the east.

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