Ukraine Interior Minister says Putin behind seizure of state buildings

Reuters

KIEV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind the seizure of state buildings by pro-Russia protesters in eastern Ukraine on Sunday and promised that police would restore order peacefully.

He also accused Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovich of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions in the region.

Earlier, pro-Russian protesters demanding a referendum on whether to join Russia seized a regional government building in the city of Donetsk and the offices of security services in nearby Luhansk.

"Putin and Yanukovich ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive," Avakov said in a statement on his Facebook page.

"The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law enforcement officers, it's true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs," he said.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Thomas Grove; Editing by Gareth Jones)