Governor, mayor from Ukraine's east flee for Russia amid tensions

The Associated Press

Anti-government protesters stand guard in front of Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Fears that Ukraine could split in two mounted Saturday as regional lawmakers in the pro-Russian east questioned the authority of the national parliament. Protesters took control of Ukraine's capital and parliament sought to oust the president. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

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By MARIA DANILOVA and YURAS KARMANAU, Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's border guard service says that a leading governor and a mayor from the president's eastern base have fled to Russia.

A spokesman for the border guard service, Oleh Slobodyan, told The Associated Press that Kharkiv regional governor Mikhaylo Dobkin and Kharkiv Mayor Hennady Kernes left Ukraine across the nearby Russian border Saturday.

Both are top allies of President Viktor Yanukovych, whose rule appeared increasingly under question after protesters took over the capital and parliament voted to remove him.

There are fears that Ukraine might split in two, creating a Russian-leaning east and Europe-leaning west.

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