A pro-Ukrainian rally in the Ukrainian city of Odesa today, May 2, turned violent when pro-Russian separatists began throwing stones at marchers. The clash continued in the Kulikovo field and the Odessa trade union building was set on fire by arsonists. As a result of the fire, 31 people were killed. During the clashes, 4 people were killed and 15 were injured according to the Interior Ministry.
About a thousand activists with Ukrainian flags gathered in Odessa’s Cathedral Square. Football fans were also planning to take part in the march. Not far from their gathering place, there was a small number of police officers. Activists shouted slogans such as: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes! Glory to the nation! Death to the enemy! East and West together!” as well as anti-Putin chants.
Almost from the start, as soon as the procession moved towards Derybasivska St., where, according to participants of the pro-Ukraine group, pro-Russian activists who are advocating for the federalization of the region were located), in the street explosions were heard from fire grenades and firebombs flew to the side of the pro-Ukraine activitists.
According to streaming video reports, stones flew at the pro-Ukrainian participants. There was an offensive. Several cars, parked along the path of the march, were broken/destroyed. According to eyewitnesses, “several hundred “marginals”, with bats, chains and other weapons”, were searching for “Banderites”.
Later, it became known that there were victims of the clashes: several activists’ heads were smashed. According Vitaly Umanets’ Facebook page, there are wounded on both sides.Pro-Ukrainian participants of the rally were breaking up the stones of the pavement into small pieces.
Later it became known that separatists were building barricades in the city center. According to a FB publication of civic activist Vitaliy Umanets who was on the spot in Odesa, they were ‘on tour’, meaning they were brought into Odesa specifically for the goal of attacking the peaceful rally. At first, the police were just standing by while the pro-Russian thugs attacked the rally.
Snipers shooting at the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators were seen on the rooftops of buildings.
The Trade Union building that the separatists made into their base was set on fire by unknowns. The fire started from the third floor. Euromaidan activists rescued the separatists felling from the fire and gave them medical assistance.
The fire at the trade union was later extinguished. The cause of the deaths will be determined by the coroner, and an investigative team is working on the scene.
Compiled and translated by Olena Wawryshyn