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Pro-Russians retreat in Ukraine’s eastern city of Mariupol

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Pro-Russia activists have retreated from government buildings in Mariupol, the second largest city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The retreat on Thursday came after steelworkers began patrolling the city with police after a rich factory owner gave the command.

Rinat Akhmetov, who is said to be Ukraine’s richest man, reportedly ordered the workers to help Ukrainian government forces to drive out pro-Russia activists from Mariupol.

The pro-Russia activists had controlled government buildings in Mariupol for weeks.

The city, which is an important industrial and shipping center in the Donetsk region, has recently seen heavy fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia protesters.

On May 9, at least 20 protesters and an army officer were killed and more than two dozen others sustained injuries during the Ukrainian army’s military operation in the port city.

The acting Kiev government has been staging military operations in the eastern and southern regions since mid-April in a bid to root out pro-Moscow demonstrations.

On May 12, the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence following local referendums, in which the regions’ residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Kiev.

The referendums echoed a March vote in Crimea that led to the reunification of the peninsula with the Russian Federation. Nearly 97 percent of participants in Crimea’s referendum voted for rejoining Russia.

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