Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man has vowed to to restore law and order in Mariupol, the second biggest city in Ukraine's Donetsk region and home to his major assets.
The director of the Mariupol metal plant, which belongs to Akhmetov's Metinvest metallurgy group, is enthusiastic about the initiative. Now his subordinates have joined local police in patrolling the streets of the city.
Yuri Zinchenko, Mariupol metal plant director:
"We understand clearly that if any decisions are made outside the law the first consequences would be the closure of all markets we have today for our products. Not only the leadership and the owner of the company realise this, but I want to stress that today workers realise this as well, and today in the SCM Group which belongs to our shareholder Rinat Akhmetov, there are over 300.000 staff, plus their families, so it's a huge army."
Bulldozers and men wearing factory outfits and hard hats were busy clearing a barricade from the square in front of the burned down city hall, where deadly violence erupted last week. As joint patrols could be seen walking through the city, some residents welcomed the initiative.
Mariupol resident Maksim:
"At least it is better than what we had here on May 9th, 10th... It is better than looting, etc."
There are many separatist leaders in Donbas. Akhmetov, who had close ties to disgraced former President Viktor Yanukovych, has rejected charges that he is backing them.
In a 3-minute 45-second video clip posted on May 14 to YouTube, the billionaire declared unequivocally that he favours a unified Ukraine. The clip went viral and was watched by over 100,000 veiwers in less than 24 hours.
Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov:
"The only right way, in my view, is to amend the Constitution and decentralize government. It is when Kyiv gives authority to the regions. It is when regional governments are not appointed but elected. And it is when local authorities are responsible to the people in the present and future."
Ukrainian politicians and civil groups on May 14 gathered for OSCE-backed roundtable talks in Kyiv on how to quell the pro-Russian rebellion in the east of the country. Kremlin-backed separatists from Donbas did not take part. Neither did Akhmetov, who has been invited to participate in future roundtable discussions scheduled to take place in Donetsk.