DONETSK, April 7 (RAPSI) – The People’s Council of Donetsk has declared its intention Monday to establish Donetsk as an autonomous republic and to hold a referendum by May 11 in order to determine whether the republic should join Russia, RIA Novosti reports on Monday.

The Council was organizaed by activist citizens of the Eastern Ukrainian region.

“The People’s Republic of Donetsk will be formed within the administrative borders of Donetsk region. This decision [about joining Russia] will enter into force after the referendum is held,” said one of the Council’s leaders during the meeting at the local administrative building.

The protesters have taken down the flag of Donetsk region and installed a “Donetsk republic” banner, to the sound of official Soviet national anthem.

Calls for secession have been spreading across Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions following the Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada’s (Parliament) impeachment of Viktor Yanukovych and reversion to the country’s 2004 constitution in February.

Protesters in eastern Ukraine, who have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new authorities, have been gathering since March, demanding referendums on the status of their regions.