Ukraine’s interior ministry said pro-Russian gunmen have seized state security headquarters in the eastern city of Luhansk, the scene of anti-government protests Sunday.
Authorities said police have closed all roads into the city.
The demonstrators marched in Luhansk and another eastern city, Donetsk, where masked protesters threw firecrackers at riot police.
The marchers are demanding the cities hold referendums on whether to split with Ukraine and become part of Russia — the same kind of referendum held in Crimea last month.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said all protesters have been cleared from a government building in another eastern city, Kharkiv. No details were given.
Avakov accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin and ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych of instigating and financing the trouble in the east.
A spokesman for acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchnyov said the president has canceled a trip to Lithuania and called an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Kyiv because of the protests.
(View of Luhansk by Igor Mazurov/flickr.com)