Russian-backed separatists take control of government buildings in Luhansk

Paul P. Murphy, Josh Pennington, Yulia Sevchenko and Hira Humayun

Russian-backed rebels from the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have taken control of government buildings in the city of Rubizhne.

Luhansk is one of two separatist regions backed by Russia, along with Donetsk. Both regions are split between parts controlled by Ukraine and by pro-Moscow separatists.

In videos posted Thursday to the official channel of the People’s Militia of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a uniformed soldier says, “We are located next to the administration of the city Rubizhne. The flag of the (LPR) is flying here now. This means for the local residents that, if the war hasn’t ended yet, then it’s in its final stages.”

In another video, the soldier is seen standing in the Rubizhne mayor’s office and is later seen placing a flag of the LPR on the roof of the government building.  After an explosion is heard, he says: “That’s more shelling, from the Ukrainian side.”

Ongoing attacks: Shelling continues in Rubizhne, Luhansk regional administrator Serhiy Haidai said in a clip from an interview with local media.

In the clip posted to his Telegram channel late Thursday, Haidai said, “The enemy is simply destroying all the cities.”


“It’s not even selective anymore. Earlier they were shelling more or less selectively, today they are firing deliberately, quadrant after quadrant,” he added.
“People have been in basements for two weeks. Some have bomb shelters. If there’s a factory nearby, there are good, strong bomb shelters there.”


Up to 1,200 people are in some bomb shelters, he said.

Delivering aid is difficult with constant firing, he said, but added that with the help of Ukraine’s presidential office, there will be an attempt to create an evacuation corridor later in the week to deliver supplies to large cities.

Accounts of destruction: On Tuesday, Haidai said the Russian military destroyed a boarding school for visually impaired children in Rubizhne, in addition to a hospital, three other schools and “other military facilities.”

Four people were killed during the military strike, he said.

CNN cannot independently confirm the deaths, or that the schools, hospital or facilities were hit.

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