Odessa Trade Union massacre

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One of the many images activists have produced to memorialize the massacre in Odessa
Teenage girls spotted preparing molotov cocktails, carrying them to the scene and watching while more than 40 people die as a result of their actions.
A woman at the rally in Odessa the day after the fire. Human Rights Watch in October used the image to support a trivial on-line petition against Russia, withdrew it when exposed (Photo: Reuters, HRW (withdrawn))

Ukraine's major port city Odessa on May 2, 2014, saw a string of strange clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of the new Kiev government, which ended with at least 48 people dead (and perhaps over a hundred). The fatalities were almost entirely anti-Kiev activists, including women and a few children. These died in or just outside the Hall of Trade Unions in central Odessa (on Wikimapia), which was sealed off, invaded by pro-Kiev militias, and then ravaged by fires and mysterious toxic gasses in what only some consider a massacre.

Authorities in Kiev have said the victims had occupied the building in an attempt at takeover (like recently happened in Donetsk and other cities), had probably started the fire and gassed themselves accidentally, and died from that or from jumping out windows. But survivors say they were simply trying to hide from a provoked "pro-unity" lynch mob (some of whose members were earlier shot by mystery snipers), who beat some escapees to death. Further, this all happened only after that mob - including members of ultra-nationalist/fascist groups like Right Sector - entered the building with clubs and other weapons (see The Mob Enters the Hall). At least some ostensible fire or falling victims seem to have been deliberately murdered (signs of bludgeoning and gunshots appear clearly, signs of strangulation, hacking, and chemical death might also appear) (see victim analysis.

There had been a movement for federalism or separation from the new government and an Odessa People's Republic, which suffered and was forced underground by the May 2 massacre. This clarifies how it might qualify as as political terrorism. Signs of coordination the Kiev government in an off-the-books "Anti-Terror Operation," and its poor record of investigating the events (see Odessa Trade Union massacre/Investigations make it seem like the state-sponsored sort.

The episode is an exceptionally emotional issue and the subject of hundreds of articles and videos relating the fairly obvious crimes of the mob. From early on, a large amount of video evidence and some witness accounts showed portions of this story, but little new has emerged since, even as several investigations have been ongoing, mostly by the Kiev government. This page, its talk page the various #Sub-pages and their talk pages, reflect an investigation of sorts, moving at least as slowly as the others. This is still exploring outstanding issues including: the early clashes, the strange police inaction, slow fire response, true identity of the provocateurs, true death toll and nature, the chemical agent(s) used against the federalists, possible official sanctions, the conduct and findings of other investigations, etc.. We warmly invite anyone interested in adding to or improving this record to register and do so.

Sub-pages

Narratives

Ukraine

Kyiv, 3 May 2014. Yesterday, 2 May 2014, tragic events took place in Odessa, leaving dozens killed and hundreds injured.
According to the law enforcement authorities, a group of provocateurs who declared separatist and pro-Russian slogans attacked a rally of supporters of Ukraine’s unity.
The scale of the tragedy is striking. We consider these events to be the continuation of an effort to undermine our state which poses threat to the life and security of our citizens.
We strongly condemn the actions aimed at the breakup of Ukraine and destabilization of the situation in the south of the country.
Events in Odessa show that separatists’ subversive activities in Ukraine are doomed to failure because not only do the Ukrainian citizens not support the so-called ‘separatists’ but they also strongly oppose any attempts to break the unity of our country and resist the terrorists and militants.
We would like to offer our sincere and deep condolences over the tragedy.
The law enforcement authorities are conducting an all-round, objective investigation of these tragic events, and those responsible must be punished.

Notice the complete lack of details like fire, where and who was in it, or any of the obvious signs this was a deliberate massacre against people on the "pro_Russian" side. The MFA also mentions unspecified "events in Odessa" that they seem to applaud as they "show that separatists’ subversive activities in Ukraine are doomed to failure because ... citizens ... strongly oppose ... terrorists and militants." This apparently refers to the pogrom that basically shut down federalism in Ukraine. But in addition, there were these unspecified "tragic events," for which "those responsible must be punished." As a clue, no one involved in the pogrom was arrested (but for a few people caught red-handed who were released within days), while all the "pro-Russian" survivors were arrested and some remain behind bars to this day. The straightforward (best) reading is that both tragic and the laudable event sets refer to the same famous ones under study here, assessed with an unexplained double-standard that sends very mixed signals.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry concluded, at least as RT reported it, "the victims of the violent unrest started the fire themselves, when they began throwing Molotov cocktails from the upper floor." (primary source needed) This claim makes almost no sense whatsoever, but there are similar and slightly better explanations they may have actually meant, with only the baseline fact that the federalist defenders started the blaze themselves, presumably on accident, as most government pronouncements and reports since clearly assert. It puts credit for the worst ("tragic") feature of the day on the same people who started the events; they began it and ended it, with nothing but a passive role for the Maidan side. It also leaves the laudable heroes with a relatively small role in "resisting," or causing the "failure" of the movement that all but stomped itself out that day. The job is now being followed up on by the state's and allied forces (Right Sector, etc.), who continue to arrest "terrorists" of the Kulikovo Alternative in Odessa on a regular basis.

Euro-Maidan: A Confused Narrative

For contrast, one the Maidan activists wearing an army helmet and face wrapped with a scarf, jumps in the screen of this video at 18:42 to provide this narrative:

"So this is Russia's peace? We are Odessit(s), and people (who) came from all over Ukraine. We do not need Russia, we have a country already. And there is no need to break our country. That building, they did not built that. And now because of them, it has to be burned down together with them. Because 'they came to us with a sword' (from a saying, whoever comes to us with a sword, dies by a sword) to Cathedral Square."

He doesn't say who would be doing the burning - maybe "unknowns" - just that it was necessary in the his and the mob's opinion.

Antifascist resistance

Synopsis of the Odessa massacre: Andrey Parabui, the head of the Ukraine Security Council, arrived in Odessa apparently the day before the massacre. There is a video with him, giving several armor vests to a Right Sector check point at a crossing before Odessa on the day of his arrival.
After massive 1 May antifascist demonstration, the Right Sector and the Ukrainian National Socialist Organization and not just "soccer fans") converged on the city. There are numerous videos showing the Odessa junta police and the fascist paramilitaries consulting with each other and the authorities in Kiev their joint actions.
On several videos, the police and the fascist mob can be seen as working closely together--militants shooting from behind the police, the police letting them pass, etc. In the morning hours, the fascist "pro-unity" marches congregated in several central streets of Odessa, thus drawing there antifascist protesters.
It is evident that this early phase was well planned as a diversionary tactic for the main target was the Kulikovo field with the Labor Union building which was the center of nearly all antifascist manifestations in Odessa. It is also there where antifascist patriots set up their makeshift tent city. The junta felt that this needed to be cleared and that, at the same time, the protesters must be taught a harsh lesson which would break the spirit of this "hero city," a title Odessa gained with several other select cities in the Great Patriotic War.
The diversion worked, and many of the young antifascist activists remained in downtown. In well synchronized and organized columns, the fascist paramilitaries then quickly regrouped and moved against their principal target--the antifascist tent city on the Kulikovo field accompanied by units of the Odessa police. Because of the successful diversion, most of the people on the Kulikovo field were middle-age and older people with many women among them. As soon as they arrived there, the militants not only started burning and destroying the tents, but they also started killing the people. They did in such a way that, for most people, the only exit left was into the Labor Union building. That was a trap.
Once they got the people inside, the fascists started throwing Molotov cocktails and shooting. However, as can be seen on the photos and videos, the fire was mainly at the main entrance and in few several rooms elsewhere. Only a smaller number of victims showed signs of being completely burned. Many of the victims died of suffocation or strangling or their upper bodies or faces were burned. Many of the victims were shot into the heads. Many were beaten to death.
This means that most of the victims were hunted and killed one by one inside the building. This killing spree given the size of the building apparently lasted over several hours and as going on even when the much delayed and very feeble response of the fire department was detected.
All this time, the Odessa police stood by and some of the police with ties to the Right Sector reportedly assisted the fascists by shooting into the people who were climbing on the windows. After several hours, the police then acted and detained ... guess who ... some 60-80 antifascist survivors who then, without food or water, were kept for many hours in the police department, and charged with multiple crimes, including murder.
The one main thing, which the police was interested most, was trying to find at least one "Russian" in the group. Alas, this did not succeed. All the victims and now detainees were Odessites (unlike may of the fascist militants). An angry crowd later that day forced their release .... which profoundly upset the Right Sector murderers. An Odessite grandmother was memorably recorded "beating" with lilacs (who used to symbolize Victory Day--lilacs blossom in May) Odessa policemen who were blocking on Saturday the Labor Union building with the corpses (most likely well over 100) still there.
Only when it was dark, the Right Sector crawled back and came back to the scene of their crime singing and shouting "glory" to themselves. Evidently, the corpses were removed soon after--during the night for today, as various videos show, people started to roam the devastated building still shocked, distraught, and upset. As expected and true to its character, the junta first blamed the victims. They allegedly caused the fire themselves and burned themselves by throwing Molotov cocktails on the peaceful pro-junta protesters.
A later modified line, repeated by Western media, was that what happened was a "tragedy," but one without a perpetrator. The one problem identified was some sort of further unspecified failing on the part of the local police. The head of the police was replaced .... with an even more over Right Sector hand.
Following a cue from Catherine Ashton, Yatsenyuk, the junta's PM, then issued a call (to an unspecified addressee) for an "independent investigation." The same assembly of fascist murderous thugs was planning to hit in a similar way Kharkov. The massive outrage and mobilization appears to have stopped this or at least delayed for now.
Some of the evidence is here: http://ai-zhilin.livejournal.com/1360753.html

The Saker

In 1993 the Russian Parliament building was defended pretty much in the same way as the buildings in eastern Kiev are: all sorts of supporters outside the building, but the core defenders inside. Once the shooting began, the crowd of sympathizers outside rapidly dispersed. Shortly after the building itself was assaulted an offer was made to those willing surrender to let them out safely. Some accepted. Others stayed. The assault of the building resumed and the bloodbath which took place inside was hidden from the public. As for those who surrendered, they were hunted down while leaving the area, beat up and often murdered. Finally, the winning side engaged in a massive hunt for Parliament-sympathizers who were hunted down, arrested, beat up and even killed for at least a week. Something very similar might happen in the next few days in eastern Ukraine.
[...]
Alas, my experience in Moscow in 1993 (I was there during the full crisis) tells me that you can always find enough people to butcher their fellow-citizens, as long as they get to hide from the cameras. There is nothing more easy then to hide a mass murder inside a burning building - and they know that.

The SBU

SBU (that never sleeps and...) 28 October. Not about Odessa but illustrates the overall state of affairs, applicable to Odessa as well.

"On the "hot line" Security in the Vinnitsa region a report was made, in particular, that on September 30 during a meeting with voters deputies of Ukraine Oksana Kaletnyk resorted to statements with separatist content, including declared "legitimacy of the self-proclaimed" DPR "and" LPR "republics and their right to secede from Ukraine." According to this information, the investigation department of the SBU in the Vinnitsa region began pre-trial investigation into criminal proceedings under ch. 2, Art. 110 (attack on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine by a person who is a representative of the authority) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. "Our investigators are verifying this information, but I want to emphasize that the Security Service of Ukraine takes a principled stand on the issue of protection of Ukrainian statehood. We are grateful to the citizens who, 'being ill for the State', are reporting to the SBU about probable preparation or committing crimes against the national security of Ukraine. No such notice is left unattended. The reason for the start of pre-trial investigation is a report and evidence of illegal actions, "- said the head of the Security Service Advisor Markiian Lubkivskyy. "I want to remind that the SBU head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko has repeatedly spoken about this: none of those who despised Ukraine, constitutional order, encroaches on its territorial integrity, the attributes of statehood will not escape the responsibility and not hide behind the mandates of deputies", - said M. Lubkivskyy.

Reactions

@carlbildt on Twitter:

Horrible with at least 38 dead in Odessa. Seems to have started with pro-Russian attempt to get control of buildings!

Kateryna_Kruk ‏@Kateryna_Kruk

#Odessa cleaned itself from terrorists, proud for city fighting for its identity.glory to fallen heroes..

Mykolas Alutis on Facebook

The Maidanites came into the building after it was burned. And then they look for people that were still alive and they beat them till they were killed. The survivors who jumped from the building and were severely injured were beaten to death by the Maidanite neo-fascists with baseball bats.

Vladimir Suchan on Facebook quoting 1TV.ru

The Odessa massacre was an organized action of terror carried out as a special joint operation of the junta security forces and the Right Sector. It was revealed that, at the time of the Odessa massacre at the hands of numerous Right Sector fascists that were brought to the city after May 1 celebrations, Andreiy Parubiy, the junta's Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee, was in Odessa (as he was also the day before). It is also now clear that the activities of the Right Sector and (in)actions of the Odessa law enforcement and security forces directly subordinate to Parubiy were also coordinated and directed by Parubiy himself. Accounts from the site of the massacre do also tell stories of the police acting on clear commands from above as to what to and to do. The massacre was thus happening against the background of a detectable coordination and synchronization between the fascist radicals, the junta police, and even the Fire Department--ensuring complete freedom of action, safety, and impunity for the fascists who set so many people on fire and beat and shot others to death, while preventing ambulances from offering medical assistance. In response to the mass murder, the Right Sector issued a statement in which it effectively declared its actions to be both the new law of the land and the state of emergency, in which the fascists are not bound by any other law except by their will to "act cruelly." After the massacre, Julia Tymosheno expressed her "gratitude" to the same fascist forces, whom she called "Odessites", for subduing "the separatists."
  • 6 month anniversary commemoration flash-mob footage. Starting location is by the Duke statue, Odessa, Ukraine.
They are all local. Woman doing most of the talking (3:00+) lost her son, she says he was a good person and just was asked to help; other women also lost sons. They say that what happened is second Khatyn, and ask for help. They say there was no proper investigation, random people were arrested while those responsible, of such sort as Goncharevsii or Mikhola, escaped the blame. They say the city is living in fear and when somebody speaks up, Right Sector or provocateurs scare them off. Woman doing most of the talking says they are not separatists and love their country, but is asking Germans to help preventing onset of fascism which may lead to another war and more deaths. (She tries to avoid politics, but feels that the US role was not good).

Sources

Print

Analysis

Detailed analysis of downtown events.
2015

Documentaries

  • "Taking fire on ourselves", by a writer Alexey Ivakin, Literary-documentary account in 4 parts (in Russian), said to be based on accounts of 20 witnesses (listed by first names in the beginning). The story is presented by Evgenia Kulikova ( a pseudonym of a witness) , 1.6.2015.

Witnesses

A photo exhibition "Odessa massacre - do not look away" brought together about 20 activists. ... Sergei Marhel, who was presented as an eyewitness
“There was a flood of people through the doors. I didn’t know what was going on. My sister came in and she grabbed me by the hand and said ‘We need to go.’ We were the only two who decided to leave the building. It was difficult to get out because everybody was still pouring in. When we were outside we ran towards a nearby park. I turned and saw huge numbers of people, many carrying baseball bats, descending on the square.

Location

Photos

Pre-clash P1 - P2 - P3 - P4 - P5 - P6 - P7 - P8 (damaged car) - P9 (same) - P10 (police) - P11 (same) - P12 ("unity rally") - P13 (same) - P14 ("Maidan self-defense") - P15 (same)

HretskaH1 (clashes with smoke) - H2 (same) - H3 (same) - H4 (same) - H5 (same) - H6 (same) - H7 (same) - H8 (same) - H9 (same) - H10 (same) - H11 (same) - H12 (gathering pavement) - H13 (same) - H14 (police cars) - H15 ("Unity rally") - H16 ("pro-Russian" barricade) - H17 (traffic dude) - H18 (closed shops) - H19 (same)

Zhukova Z1 - Z2 - Z3 ...Z7 ... Z12 ... Z33 - [Z34 (sudden shark attack!)

Athena (again on Hretska, but further east, by the Afina/Athen business center) A1 - A2 - A3 - A4 ... A20

Marching South M1 ... M9

Kolukivo Field K1 ... K28 ... K37

Video

  • ODESSA 5/02: The Untold Truth of Kulikovo Field (Part 1) (HD Version) - Two hour long "documentary" of raw footage from the whole day with partial translation of dialogues and a written English narration. By a certain "International Independent Broadcasting Corps" (anti-Maidan). Part 2 yet to be released.
  • Lauffeuer 45min investigative documentary released March 12, 2015, German language, English subtitles
Quite close to our work, with unseen interviews made for the film
10:20 somebody falling down, apparently hit (Zhukova/Greek street location)
22:54 at 8:30 am in police chief office, two Kiev visitors, said arriving to oversee things

Downtown scuffles

Trade Union Building

One of the entries captured the beginning of the tragedy: immediately after nationalists burned the tent city activists Antimaydana. The footage shows that crowd of young men in masks and wooden sticks in their hands knocked out one of the side doors and entered the building.
Next record has been going on inside the building. Militants spread all corridor - someone goes to the second floor, one begins to break in the door, behind which, apparently tried to hide Antimaydana activists. Brutal thugs literally pounce on the locked shutters. In the frame comes a woman who begs radicals stop.
Frames on the record shows that some of the participants of the storm House of Trade Unions have masks. And it is possible that the assumptions of the poisoning victims Ukrainian radicals toxic substances far from the truth.

News reports

Bodies

Crime scene

Reports

Criminal Cases

Ukraine

f/c

Russia

  • 28.10.2014. According to an official representative of the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin, a criminal case was opened on the attempted murder of a citizen of Russia during the tragic events of May 2, 2014 in Odessa.
    • Charges: attempted murder and torture (appropriate articles of the Russian Criminal Code apply)
    • Defendants: unknown members of nationalist armed formations "Right Sector", "Samooborona (=Self-Defence) of Maidan," football fans, and officials of the Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine.
Further details discussed on the Talk page, Talk (Criminal_Cases) .

TV and Radio Stations (current events)

1 TV, Odessa, official news

mama.odessa.fm (Odessa-mama, --feel-good type, mostly play local-taste music, with some brief news, apparently one at 8 am, possibly at other times, like at xx.00 sharp, maybe. Brief newscasts are nonpolitical, non-confrontational, current-and-future events looking, not backward-looking).

long list of Ukrainian radio stations