Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2014
42 Anti-Ukrainian Government Activists Incinerated in Fire-Bomb Attack on Building in Odessa By Pro-Government Supporters
May 2, 2014
39 people die after radicals set Trade Unions House on fire in Ukraine's Odessa
Russia TV, May 02, 2014 18:49
39 anti-government activists have died in a fire at Odessa’s Trade Unions House. Some burned to death, while others suffocated or jumped out of windows, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported. The building was set ablaze by pro-Kiev radicals.
A total of 46 people have died in Odessa’s violence on Friday and almost 200 others have sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.
39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency. “31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers,” the agency’s statement reads.
Police detained over 130 people following Friday’s bloody clashes and opened up 10 criminal investigations with charges including premeditated murder and violence against law enforcement officers.
According to the ministry, the Friday standoff on Odessa included “anti-Maidan” activists on one side and “football fans” from Odessa and Kharkov, as well as "euro-Maidan" activists, on the other. A criminal case on the charges of mass unrest has been opened.
Video stills from ustream channel opposition-ru
The Trade Unions House was set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals 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 majority of the victims were found on the floors of the Trade Unions House having apparently burned to death or suffocated from smoke. Others jumped out of the building's windows, according to police.
Earlier reports of the clashes in Odessa said that both sides used Molotov cocktails and, allegedly, gunfire. Part of the pro-Maidan activists reportedly bore insignia of the radical 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 Right Sector.
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.”
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 Rossiya 24.
One of the activist trapped there told RT 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 activists in the incident and to blame their rivals instead.
Dozens killed in Ukraine riot and fire; OSCE monitors freed
By Miran Jelenek and Maria Tsvetkova
ODESSA/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine Sat May 3, 2014 9:14am EDT
At least 42 people were killed in street battles between supporters and opponents of Russia in southern Ukraine that ended with dozens of pro-Russian protesters incinerated in a burning building, bringing the country closer to war.
Pro-Russian rebels in the east freed seven European military observers on Saturday after holding them hostage for eight days, while Kiev pressed on with its biggest military operation so far to reclaim rebel-held territory in the area.
The riot in the Black Sea port of Odessa, ending in a deadly blaze in a besieged trade union building, was by far the worst incident in Ukraine since a February uprising that ended with a pro-Russian president fleeing the country.
It also spread the violence from the eastern separatist heartland to an area far from the Russian frontier, raising the prospect of unrest sweeping more broadly across a country of around 45 million people the size of France.
The Kremlin, which has massed tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukraine's eastern border and proclaims the right to invade to protect Russian speakers, said the government in Kiev and its Western backers were responsible for the deaths.
Kiev said the violence was provoked by foreign demonstrators sent in from Transdniestria, a nearby breakaway pro-Russian region of Moldova where Moscow has a military garrison. It said most of the dead who had been identified so far were from there.
On Saturday morning, people placed flowers near the burnt-out doors of the trade union building, lighting candles and putting up the yellow, white and red flag of the city. The burnt remains of a tented camp of pro-Russian demonstrators nearby had been swept away. People spoke of their horror at what happened.
About 2,000 pro-Russian protesters gathered outside the burnt-out building, chanting: "Odessa is a Russian city".
At the nearby hospital, residents queued up to offer blood and others tried to find out what medicine was needed so they could go out to buy it.
Oleg Konstantinov, a journalist covering the events for a local Internet site, said bullets had flown in the melee before the blaze: "I was hit in the arm, then I started crawling, and then got hit in the back and leg."
The Odessa bloodshed came on the same day that Kiev launched its biggest push yet to reassert its control over separatist areas in the east, hundreds of kilometers away, where armed pro-Russian rebels have proclaimed a "People's Republic of Donetsk".
The rebels there aim to hold a referendum on May 11 on secession from Ukraine, similar to one staged in March in Ukraine's Crimea region, which was seized and annexed by Russia in a move that overturned the post-Cold War diplomatic order.
On Saturday the government said it was pressing on with the offensive in the area for a second day, and had recaptured a television tower and a security services building from rebels in Kramatorsk, a town near the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk.
"We are not stopping," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a post on Facebook. "The active phase of the operation continued at dawn."
Rebels in Slaviansk, their most heavily fortified redoubt, shot down two Ukrainian helicopters on Friday, killing two crew, and stalled an advance by Ukrainian troops in armored vehicles. Separatists said three fighters and two civilians were killed in Friday's Ukrainian advance on the town.
Vasyl Krutov, head of a government "anti-terrorist centre" behind the operation in the east, told a news conference there was gunfire and fighting around Kramatorsk: "What we are facing in the Donetsk region and in the eastern regions is not just some kind of short-lived uprising, it is in fact a war."
The military operation in the east was overshadowed by the unprecedented violence in Odessa, a vibrant multi-ethnic port city that has seen some support for separatists but nothing like the riots that erupted on Friday.
Police said four people were killed, at least three shot dead, and dozens wounded in running battles between people backing Kiev and pro-Russian activists.
The clashes ended with separatists holed up in the large Soviet-era granite-walled trade union building. Video footage showed petrol bombs exploding against its walls.
At least 37 people died in the blaze. On Saturday, police raised the overall death toll in the city to 42. It was easily the biggest death toll since about 100 people were killed in Kiev protests that toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich in February.
"Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it," RIA Novosti quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling reporters.
Peskov also said Friday's violence made the idea of holding presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25 "absurd".
Kiev's Interior Ministry blamed the pro-Russian protesters, saying they had attacked the pro-Ukrainians before retreating to the trade union headquarters, from where they opened fire on the crowd and threw out the petrol bombs that caused the blaze.
Odessa is located in the southwest of Ukraine, far from the eastern areas held by the rebels and far from the Russian frontier where Moscow has amassed troops. But it is close to Moldova's Transdniestria region, where Russia also has troops.
The spread of violence to Odessa expands the zone of unrest across the breadth of southern and eastern Ukraine.
"Today we Ukrainians are constantly being pushed into confrontation, into civil conflict, toward the destruction of our country to its heart. We cannot allow this to happen and we must be united in the fight against a foreign enemy," said acting President Oleksander Turchinov.
Regional police chief Petro Lutsiuk said on Saturday more than 130 people had been detained and could face charges ranging from participating in riots to premeditated murder.
The release of the military monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe resolves a major diplomatic issue for the West. The separatists had captured the team on April 25 and described them as prisoners of war.
One Swede was freed earlier on health grounds while four Germans, a Czech, a Dane and a Pole were still being held until Saturday. A Russian envoy helped negotiate their release.
The separatist leader in Slaviansk, self-proclaimed "people's mayor" Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, said they were freed along with five Ukrainian captives, with no conditions.
"As I promised them, we celebrated my birthday yesterday and they left. As I said, they were my guests."
The OSCE team's leader, German Colonel Axel Schneider, speaking on the road out of Slaviansk after being freed said: "You can imagine, it's a big relief. The situation was really tough. The last two nights when you see what was going on, every minute gets longer."
He praised his captor Ponomaryov as "a man who's word counts a lot. He's a man who listens".
Western countries blame Russia for stoking the separatism and fear Moscow could be planning to repeat its annexation of Crimea in other parts of Ukraine.
Russia denies it has such plans, while saying it could intervene if necessary to protect Russian speakers, a new doctrine unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in March that overturned decades of post-Soviet diplomacy.
The West has made clear it will not use military force to protect Ukraine but will rely on economic sanctions against Moscow to, in the words of U.S. President Barack Obama, change Putin's "calculus".
So far Moscow has shrugged off sanctions, which so far have included measures only against individuals and small companies.
Obama and Merkel said on Friday they would seek tougher measures, including hitting whole sectors of the Russian economy, if Moscow interferes with Ukraine's May 25 vote.
(Additional reporting by Oleksander Miliukov in Odessa, Natalia Zinets and Elizabeth Piper in Kiev, Matthew Robinson in Donetsk and Nigel Stephenson in Moscow; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Louise Ireland and Sophie Hares)
Ukraine says Odessa unrest planned by and financed from abroad
KIEV Sat May 3, 2014 6:00am EDT
May 3, 2014 (Reuters) -
Ukraine's security service said on Saturday illegal military groups from Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniestria and Russian groups worked together to foment unrest in the southern port city of Odessa.
"The unrest, which occurred on May 2 in Odessa and led to clashes and many casualties, was due to foreign interference," a spokeswoman for the SBU security service told a news conference.
She said former top officials, once part of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's inner circle, had financed "saboteurs" to foment the unrest, blaming Serhiy Arbuzov and Oleksander Klymenko, who were now "hiding in a neighbouring country". (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Louise Ireland)
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for
in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
Section 107, the material on this site is
distributed without profit to those
who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of
your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org.
email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org