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 Last Ukrainian cafe in rebel capital Donetsk closes down

It was the last cafe in Donetsk where the waiters openly spoke Ukrainian: a popular meeting place in this pro-Russian rebel capital of eastern Ukraine. But now it has closed its doors, apparently after a dispute with the separatist authorities.

Censor.NET reports citing AFP via Yahoo! News.

"It's a shame that we won't be able to work any more but it will be ok," read a note on the front window.

A franchise of the Lviv Chocolate Workshop chain, which is known for its sweets, the cafe closed after a visit from Donetsk's rebel mayor Igor Martynov, who was accompanied by local journalists.

He denied being behind the closure, saying the decision was taken by the cafe's management. But FEST, the group which owns the chain, remained vague about the reasons for the closure.

"In light of recent events with the so-called mayor and the local press, the risk is too great. That's why we have decided to temporarily close," a statement said, without elaborating.

Read more: US Department of State warns citizens to defer all travel to Crimea and Donbas

Since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the pro-Russian separatist authorities have actively tried to erase anything symbolising Ukraine or its language, changing everything from flags to brand names in the area under their control.

But this comfortable cafe, where it was not uncommon to see rebels sitting with their girlfriends, had until now remained under their radar.

"I always liked their chocolate, most of all the chocolate figures I bought for my child. I'm really sorry that they've closed it. We won't find any more chocolate of that quality in Donetsk," sighed Yulia, a 37-year-old local.

The last few "pro-Ukrainian" shops still open in Donetsk, selling items like traditional embroidered shirts, are also under threat of closure.

"Ukrainian style is not exactly fashionable at the moment in Donetsk," remarked Svetlana, a 56-year-old souvenir seller.
 
 
 
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