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Pro-Russia Protesters Face-Off With Cops in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Pro-Russian protestors from the Cossack community face riot police outside the administrative building in Kharkiv
Pro-Russian protestors from the Cossack community face riot police outside the administrative building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 3, 2014.Carlo Angerer / NBC News

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A group of pro-Russian protesters from the minority Cossack community, once the patrolmen of Russia's borderlands, faced-off with riot police outside a government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday, NBC News producer Carlo Angerer reports.

Dozens were injured on Saturday when pro-Russian protesters, some brandishing ax handles and chains, stormed the City Hall in Ukraine's second city.

The Russian flag was hoisted onto the building. By Sunday morning, the pro-Russian crowd had left the building and local authorities were back in control, with the Ukrainian flag flying once again.

A man holding a sign that reads 'Stop the provocations' during a standoff outside a government building in Kharkiv on Monday. He told NBC News the message was aimed at both sides.
A man holds a sign reading "Stop the provocations" during a standoff outside a government building in Kharkiv on Monday. He told NBC News the message was aimed at both sides.Tony Day / NBC News

The situation on the square outside the building was calm on Monday, but a pro-Russian camp was still set up around a nearby statue of Soviet-era Russian leader Vladimir Lenin.

The standoff in Ukraine has created the greatest moment of tension between Russia and the West since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event Russian President Vladimir Putin once called the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Over the weekend, Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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