Anniversary of Odessa tragedy: Kiev makes no progress to investigate it


© Arkhip Vereschagin/TASS
Relatives of those killed in the May 2 Odessa tragedy.

A year after the tragic events in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa, Ukrainian justice is not seeking to conduct an unbiased probe into the May 2014 massacre there, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The ministry said May 2 will mark "a year since one of the most tragic episodes of the intra-Ukrainian conflict - when neo-Nazis-Banderovites set on fire unarmed people in the Trade Unions House in Odessa."

Banderovites is a negative term for followers of Stepan Bandera - a nationalist leader in Western Ukraine in the 20th century who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

"As a result of that barbarous act of intimidation, several dozen people, whose only fault was that they openly voiced their civil position of non-acceptance of an anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February 2014 and rampancy of radicals-ultranationalists in Ukraine, died," the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement said.

"We state with deep concern that a year since those events, the Ukrainian justice is not making any tangible steps to conduct an objective, independent and unbiased investigation of that horrible crime and bring those guilty to account."

"On the contrary, a clear course for spinning the process is felt. This is confirmed by a recent first report of the International Consultation Group on investigation of the Euromaidan events acting under the aegis of the Council of Europe," the ministry said.

"We believe such a situation is inadmissible. Impunity for such crimes and gross violations of human rights committed during the intra-Ukrainian conflict cause a horrific precedent," the statement said.

"We are calling on the international community, including human rights structures and NGOs, to decisively and honestly prompt the Ukrainian side to conduct a thorough, objective and unbiased investigation and bring those guilty to account, as well as to in general adopt real measures to remove egregious flaws in the Ukrainian justice system," it said.

"It would just be irrelevant to speak of adherence to democratic values and supremacy of law without that," the statement said.

"We note that the position of Ukrainian authorities' patrons in the West and a whole lot of 'free' international media contributes to their carelessness and passiveness in that issue," the Russian ministry said.

"According to our observations, little attention was paid to the Odessa tragedy in May 2014 in Europe and North America. This is a regular element of an information war and media manipulation," it said.

Odessa tragedy

The city of Odessa saw riots on May 2, 2014, during which soccer fans from other cities, as well as Right Sector militants and so-called "Maidan self-defense" representatives from Kiev organized a march along city streets. Clashes with federalization supporters occurred during the march.

Radicals set ablaze the Trade Unions House, where their opponents hid, and a tent camp where activists were collecting signatures for a referendum on Ukraine's federalization and for the status of a state language for Russian. The attackers did not let anyone leave the burning Trade Unions House building.

At least 48 people died and 247 were injured in the clashes and the fire in the Trade Unions House. Some Ukrainian politicians asserted that the death toll reached 116 but that the Kiev authorities concealed the facts. Investigators have so far failed to name those guilty of the crime.

The United Nations has classified as 'inadequate' the actions by the Ukrainian authorities to investigate last year's murders in Kiev's Independence Square and the House of Trade Unions in Odessa.