Ukraine's richest man takes on the separatists

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Associated Press

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 20 at 1:34 PM

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russia separatists who are doing battle with government troops in eastern Ukraine are facing a surge of local anger, and a new challenge from the country's richest man.

The metals tycoon, Rinat Akhmetov, today demanded an end to the rebellion, which he called a "fight against the citizens of our region." His challenge is getting a boost from a wave of public dismay with the fighting.

The tycoon is vowing to challenge the insurgents who declared independence last week in two eastern regions.

He'd initially taken a non-committal stance, drawing criticism from the authorities in Kiev. But last week, his company organized citizen patrols of steelworkers who worked alongside police in one of the eastern cities to improve security. And that move forced insurgents to leave the government buildings they had seized in that city.

Ukraine's interior minister is hailing Akhmetov's move. But one rebel leader is retaliating by threatening to nationalize Akhmetov's assets.

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APPHOTO XAZ121: Workers of "Illich Iron & Steel Works" factory gather together during anti-war rally in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Ukrainian metals tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, riding a wave of public dismay with the fighting, issued a strong call against the mutiny in the east, which he described as a "fight against the citizens of our region" that has devastated Ukraine's industrial heartland. Last week, his company organized citizen patrols of steelworkers who worked alongside police in Mariupol to improve security. The move forced insurgents to vacate the government buildings they had seized in the key Black Sea port. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) (20 May 2014)

<<APPHOTO XAZ121 (05/20/14)££

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