[Ed. – Doing the jobs the Ukrainian army won’t do?]
Thousands of steelworkers fanned out on Thursday through the city of Mariupol, establishing control over the streets and banishing the pro-Kremlin militants who until recently had seemed to be consolidating their grip on power, dealing a setback to Russia and possibly reversing the momentum in eastern Ukraine.
By late Thursday, miners and steelworkers had deployed in at least five cities, including the regional capital, Donetsk. They had not, however, become the dominant force there that they were in Mariupol, the region’s second-largest city and the site last week of a bloody confrontation between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants.
While it was still far too early to say the tide had turned in eastern Ukraine, the day’s events were a blow to separatists who recently seized control here and in a dozen or so other cities and who held a referendum on independenceon Sunday. Backed by the Russian propaganda machine and by 40,000 Russian troops just over the border, their grip on power seemed to be tightening every day. …
The workers, who were wearing only their protective clothing and hard hats, said they were “outside politics” and were just trying to establish order. Faced with waves of steelworkers joined by the police, the pro-Russian protesters melted away, along with signs of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and its representatives. Backhoes and dump trucks from the steelworkers’ factory dismantled the barricades that separatists had erected.