Massacre In Odessa , 20 Killed In Sloviansk and Kramatorsk ; Ukraine On The Brink Of Civil War
03 May, 2014
Over the last 24 hours there has been a serious escalation in violence in eastern Ukraine . Violent deaths have been showered over Ukraine as neo-Nazi Right Sector activists in Odessa have burned to death at least 46 activists opposing the authority in Kiev while Kiev troops have killed at least 20 in the eastern cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in overnight assault over anti-Kiev protesters. Street battles have started in parts of east Ukraine .
Media reports from Ukraine said:
As neo-Nazi Right Sector activists set ablaze Odessa 's Trade Unions House, according to the Ukraine Interior Ministry, 39 persons have died. Some of them burned to death while others suffocated or jumped out of windows.
The Ukraine emergency agency's statement has also cited the death figure in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House as 39.
However, on May 3, 2014, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists: 46 people have died in Odessa Trade Union building arson on May 2, 2014. Almost 200 others have sustained injuries.
Police detained over 130 persons and opened up 10 criminal investigations with charges including premeditated murder and violence against law enforcement officers.
According to the Ukraine interior ministry, the May 2 standoff in Odessa included “anti-Maidan” activists on one side and “football fans” from Odessa and Kharkov , as well as "euro-Maidan" activists, on the other.
The Trade Unions House was set on fire by neo-Nazis after they surrounded and destroyed the tent camp of anti-government activists that stood in front of the building on Odessa 's Kulikovo Field Square . It was torched in a storming attempt after some of the anti-Maidan activists rallying in the square barricaded themselves inside the building.
The assaulting pro-Maidan activists reportedly bore insignia of the Right Sector group.
A live video stream from inside the building showed disturbing scenes of supposedly dead bodies lying around the rooms with thick smoke in the air and blood stains on the floor.
Most of the bodies filmed had St. George ribbons attached to their clothes, distinguishing the victims as pro-Russian or anti-Kiev activists.
The person filming said he counted up to 25 dead bodies on the upper floors alone.
As the house was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills of several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Reports claimed that those who jumped and survived were surrounded and beaten by football ultras and the neo-Nazi Right Sector activists.
The riot police lines standing beside the building were apparently doing nothing to prevent the violence, the photos showed. Police officers reportedly said they could not do anything because they were “unarmed.”
Later, activists trapped on the roof of the besieged Trade Unions House building have been rescued and taken to a police station, the self-proclaimed head of the Republic of Odessa told.
One of the activist trapped there told by phone earlier that up 50 people were there with him, including women.
As people were dying in the burning building, some of the pro-Kiev activists jeered on Twitter that “ Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa ,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George's ribbons.
Few media outlets followed the developing situation, with thousands of people taking to live streams to see the events unfolding.
However, just as the first official death toll emerged, some Western media and leaders rushed to seemingly downplay the role of pro-Kiev neo-Nazi activists in the incident and to blame their rivals instead.
“More than 40 people were killed in Odessa on Friday, most caught in a building set on fire after pro-Russian activists and supporters of Ukrainian unity fought running battles across the southern port city,” Reuters wrote.
“Horrible with at least 38 dead in Odessa . Seems to have started with pro-Russian attempt to get control of buildings. Violence must stop!” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Bildt blamed “pro-Russian thugs” for the street violence in Odessa .
Photo from Twitter/@GrahamWP_UK
‘They beat us with bats and chains'
Deputy of the regional council and mayoral candidate Aleksey Albu was brutally beaten by Right Sector radicals after he escaped the burning Trade Unions House.
“Militants from the Right Sector arrived from Kharkov to Odessa today. They attacked the center of the city first and then they moved on to the anti-Kiev protesters camp,” Albu told via telephone while in the hospital. “They attacked the camp with about 200 people there – 100 of whom were women and men over 50 and 60 years of age – with Molotov cocktails.”
“The people at the camp then barricaded themselves inside the Trade Unions House,” Albu said.
The Right Sector activists then surrounded the building and “began throwing stun grenades and tear gas into the building...I was there inside the building and took part in the defense. We tried to defend ourselves as much as we could,” he added.
“When we were finally able to jump out of the window from the second floor, we were met by the Right Sector radicals. They beat us with their feet using bats and chains. My friend got an open head injury. I received a wound six centimeters long and am now in a hospital waiting to get stitches,” Albu stated.
“We were all covered in blood, our legs were beaten by bats,” he said.
'Police aren't defending us against this angry mob'
Earlier, one of the activists who had been trapped on the roof of the Trade Unions House said that up to 50 people were there with him, including women and young men.
“We tried to close all doors and windows that lead to the roof, got rid of all ladders,” he told.
Various impersonators tried to come up, according to him, including people pretending to be rescuers and Interior Ministry troops. He said the activists on the roof were determined not to leave unless they received some guarantees they would leave alive.
The activist described the Right Sector activists blocking off the entrance onto the nearby street and special police just standing there as it happened.
“We are waiting and hoping that someone will come here and help us get out alive. If police are not defending us against this angry mob, then I don't know how we will find a way to leave,” he said while trapped on the roof.
Mayoral candidate Albu described the attack as being “a wake up call for Odessa ” which could lead to very unpredictable consequences. Albu stated that the anti-Kiev demonstrations were peaceful, adding that the attack on protesters “will not go unanswered.”
Kiev troops attack Kramatorsk
The Ukrainian military has occupied the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk after an assault, local self-defense said. The overnight attack killed at least 10 people.
The Kiev troops now control the central square.
The Kiev troops “shoot at everyone, including civilians,” a self-defense HQ member claimed.
He also said self-defense think the military intends to cut them off to “start the operation in Slavyansk overnight.”
hoto from Twitter/@GrahamWP_UK
The TV center is also under control of the military, with the broadcast of Ukrainian channels restored.
Due to the ongoing operation, city markets, parks, and some supermarkets remain closed, while transport has ground to a halt.
Fighting in Kramatorsk continued into May 3, 2014, with the Ukrainian security forces moving forward despite resistance from self-defense squads.
Via Facebook, Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov asked local residents to stay indoors.
Earlier, he said that two checkpoints near Kramatorsk had been destroyed.
Snipers who are controlled by the Kiev government occupied multi-storey buildings and fire from there, an unnamed source in the Donbass self-defense HQ told. He added that the fighting is going on on the city streets, with different kinds of weapons used.
The source also claims there are dead in the fighting, “most of them civilians who happened to be next to the location where the fighting is now on.”
The Ukrainian army's assault on Kramatorsk started on May 2, 2014 night. Earlier reports said that one self-defense activist was killed and nine were injured.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov warned that the special military operation in Kramatorsk would resume on May 3, 2014 morning. “The active phase of the operation will continue at sunrise,” Avakov said on his Facebook page. “We are not going to stop.”
"Last night 10 people on our side died, they were all unarmed civilians,” the self-defense member, who wouldn't disclose his identity, told RIA Novosti.
He added that 30 people were wounded after the Ukrainian army opened fire.
The storming of Kramatorsk is part of a wider military operation in eastern Ukraine , which intensified on May 2, 2014 morning when Ukrainian troops attacked the anti-government stronghold of Slavyansk . The city was surrounded by the military with dozens of APCs and 20 helicopters engaged in the operation.
The fighting has reportedly resulted in three casualties. Two helicopter pilots have died, according to Ukrainian military officials while self-defense forces in Slavyansk said that one of their members was killed.
Neo-Nazis shot dead more than 10 near Slavyansk
The People's Mayor of Slavyansk said: In Slavyansk in east Ukraine , neo-Nazis shot dead more than 10 people. About 40 people have been injured in the shooting incident.
Civilians had reportedly formed a human chain to protect their village from members of the right-wing group.
“In the village of Andreevka [suburb of Slavyansk ], during the night people blocked entry to [neo-Nazi] Right Sector members, forming a human chain along the road. Members of Right Sector opened fire, killing over 10 people,” anti-government leader Vyacheslav Ponomarev told Interfax news agency in a telephone conversation. Ponomarev was appointed the 'People's Mayor' of Slavyansk after pro-federalization activists took control of the city on April 12.
According to the People's Mayor, members of Right Sector would not allow anyone to move the wounded and opened fire on people who tried to approach them.
RT's stringer, Graham Phillips, who is in Andreevka, said over 100 Ukrainian soldiers had set up camp in the village yesterday and had now left. He uploaded a video onto his YouTube feed showing the dead body of a man who had been shot dead by soldiers, according to local residents.
Right Sector's head Dmity Yarosh, who has been placed on an international most wanted terrorist list by Russia , announced the creation of a new squad of fighters called “Donbass” at the end of April. According to Yarosh, the group coordinates “all of our actions with the leadership of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security service of Ukraine .”
Kiev 's coup-appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said Donbass will be incorporated into a new structure of special divisions aimed at bring the situation in eastern Ukraine under control.
In reference to the disturbing events, Russia 's permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said that such “actions are reminiscent of the crimes of the Nazis from whom the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists derive their ideological inspiration.”
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