On May 2, 2014 an estimated 2,000 pro-Kiev activists, radical football fans, Right Sector militants (Neo Nazis) and so-called “Maiden self-defense” representatives from Kiev, marched the streets of Odessa in support of the post-coup government. They clashed with anti-government activists, who were demanding the Odessa region renounce Kiev and get greater autonomy from central government.
Running street battles ensued with pro-government fighters sending their opponents on the run. The clashes escalated when the radicals raided a tent camp in the Kulikovo Field, where hundreds of peaceful protesters had been holding a sit-in for weeks. The camp was torched with Molotov cocktails and its occupants took refuge in the Trade Union building.
However, the building itself was set on fire and a baying crowd surrounded it. Dozens of people died from smoke poisoning or from falling when they tried to escape the fire. Some of those who managed to flee were rounded up and beaten up by the radicals.
According to the official report, 48 people died, including 6 pro-government activists and 42 anti-government activists. More than 200 were injured. Some say the report underestimated the number of casualties, with estimated fatality counts reaching as high as 116.
Twenty-two people are being prosecuted in connection with the tragedy. Half of these are still on the run. The investigators say police negligence is to blame and reject evidence that Odessa law enforcers were actually involved in orchestrating the crackdown on the opposition camp.
Moscow accuses the Ukrainian government of failing to investigate last year’s tragedy properly. Russia says foreign sponsors of the new government in Kiev are not doing enough to pressurize Ukraine to ensure that those responsible face justice. “Media: … there were casualties ‘as a result clashes between supporters and opponents,’ but there was not a word about the fact that people were burnt alive and targeted fire was opened against those jumping out of the windows of the building ablaze. It was all [presented] as it was an ordinary cause,” the Foreign Minister of Russia Lavrov said [May 5, 2015], adding he hoped that that Kiev authorities would get the notion of the necessity “to fully and unbiasedly investigate into all committed crimes, including the case of Maidan snipers, the Odessa [fire], Mariupol [shelling] and Malaysian Boeing [airplane crash].”
Insider Intelligence: Bloodbath in Odessa guided by interim rulers of Ukraine [Voltaire Network, 15 May 2014]
Riots in Odessa, may 2, 2014 (gepubliceerd 2 mei 2014)
RT: Odessa Massacre: ‘Right Sector wouldn’t let people out of burning building” (gepubliceerd 2 mei 2014)
Odessa Inferno (gepubliceerd 6 mei 2014)
About the real situation in Odessa (gepubliceerd 8 mei 2014)
Independent report on massacre in Odessa (gepubliceerd 13 mei 2014)
Roses Have Thorns The Odessa Massacre (gepubliceerd 15 juli 2014)
Odessa, May 2 (gepubliceerd 1 mei 2015)