Pro-Russia protesters have reportedly taken over Ukraine’s eastern city of Lugansk as the standoff continues between Moscow and the West over the crisis-hit Eastern European country.
According to recent reports, the demonstrators stormed the Municipal Administration building in Lugansk on Sunday, brought down the Ukrainian flag and hoisted the Russian one instead.
They also urged authorities to hold a referendum over joining Russia.
Meanwhile, Lugansk's governor has fled the city, and a pro-Russian figure has been elected as the city’s new governor, Russian media reported.
Pro-Russia rallies are also being held in Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk and across the autonomous region of Crimea.
Crimean lawmakers voted on Thursday in favor of joining the neighboring Russia. Local Crimean administration is expected to hold a referendum on March 16 on the region’s separation from Ukraine.
The heads of Russia's two houses of parliament said they would support Crimea if it votes to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
However, the interim government in Kiev denounced the move, describing the planned vote as “unconstitutional” and “illegitimate”.
The Ukrainian parliament ousted president Viktor Yanukovych in February and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s newly-elected speaker, as interim president.
The ouster followed weeks of unrest in the former Soviet Republic that was triggered after Yanukovych refrained from signing the Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow in November 2013.