ABOVE: A giant statue of Lenin was pulled down by jubilant crowds in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on September 28
KYIV, Ukraine – Eastern Ukraine has suffered the worst violence in more than a week as fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in the region killed at least 12 people and wounded 32, officials said Monday.
Col. Andriy Lysenko told journalists in a briefing in Kyiv on Monday that at least nine troops had been killed in a day and 27 had been wounded.
Meanwhile, the city council of Donetsk said in a statement published online that at least three civilians were killed and five wounded in overnight shelling of a residential area in the northern part of the city, where fighting has centred on the government-held airport.
Violence has continued despite a cease-fire declared on Sept. 5. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been at pains to insist to a skeptical audience at home that his peace plan is working.
Since fighting began in April, the conflict has claimed at least 3,500 lives. On Sept. 20, representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and the rebels signed another agreement that would require both sides to remove all heavy artillery from the frontline, creating a buffer zone that would allow the cease-fire to be better enforced.
On Sunday, in the second-largest Ukrainian city, Kharkiv, nationalists tore down an enormous statue of Vladimir Lenin to cheers from the crowd. Across Ukraine, people have torn down statues to the former Communist leader in a symbolic display of anti-Russian sentiment.
The authorities in Kharkiv supported the move. Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs and a Kharkiv native, wrote on his 广州桑拿论坛 page: “Lenin? Let him fall… As long as nobody gets hurt.”