Pro-Russia demonstrations break out in Ukraine

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Troops in unmarked uniforms stand guard as they take control the Coast Guard offices in Balaklava on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. An emblem on one of the vehicles and their number plates identify them as belonging to the Russian military. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of sending new troops into Crimea, a strategic Russia-speaking region that hosts a major Russian navy base. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian demonstrations have broken out in major cities in eastern and southern Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin asked for parliamentary permission Saturday to use troops to protect Russians in the country.

Demonstrators raised the Russian flag Saturday over Kharkhiv city hall after a demonstration turned violent. Russia supporters clashed with backers of the Ukrainian government who were guarding the building. Government supporters were left beaten and bloodied.

Demonstrators jammed a Russian flag through a broken window in an upper story.

Ukrainian and television news wires reported pro-Russians demonstrations in Donetsk and Odessa. All three cities have large Russian-speaking populations.