Pro-Russian Gunmen Seize Police Station in Eastern Ukraine

Armed pro-Russian activists guard a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk after it was seized on Saturday.ANATOLIY STEPANOV / AFP - Getty Images

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A few dozen pro-Russian gunmen seized a police station Saturday in Slavyansk in Ukraine's restive eastern industrial heartland amid spreading protests in favor of the heavily Russified region joining Kremlin rule. The attack and a failed assault on the prosecutor's office in the local capital Donetsk underscored the volatility of a crisis that European Union and U.S. diplomats hope to calm when they gather their Moscow and Kiev counterparts for four-way peace talks in Geneva on Thursday.

Pro-Russian separatists in Slaviansk, meanwhile, also set up checkpoints on roads into the city, Reuters reported.

The masked men wore civilian and combat clothing as they looked over passing vehicles before waving them through the barricades, Reuters said.

An armed man inspects a car at an improvised checkpoint in Slaviansk on Saturday.Reuters