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Moscow considers Council of Europe report contribution to Odessa tragedy investigation

November 05, 2015, 17:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The report points out that it is impossible for the Ukrainian authorities to carry out the investigation in the current circumstances
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House of Trade Unions on fire, Odessa, May 2, 2014

House of Trade Unions on fire, Odessa, May 2, 2014

©  ITAR-TASS/Andrei Borovsky

MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. Investigation of events in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa that took place in May 2014 is impossible due to a politicized approach of Ukraine’s executive and legislative authorities, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova said Thursday in connection with the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel’s report on investigation of the Odessa massacre.

"The document of the International Advisory Panel actually states the impossibility of holding in the current Ukrainian realities of an independent and effective investigation of mass deaths of people during Euromaidan from November 2013 to February 21, 2014 and in Odessa on May 2, 2014," Zakharova said.

"The reason for such a situation is that officers of investigative bodies, the Security Service, the Interior and Emergencies ministries and Ukrainian courts, even if they wanted to get involved in unbiased establishment of the truth, constantly face politicized approaches of representatives of the executive and legislative authorities, which, in essence, were involved in those tragedies," she said.

Zakharova said Moscow deems it necessary to consider the International Advisory Panel’s report on investigation by the Ukrainian authorities of the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014 at one of the next meetings of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

She said the presented report is "a contribution of the Council of Europe to international efforts to ensure unbiased and impartial investigation of the tragic events in Odessa." "In this context, we welcome it," the diplomat said.

Zakharova said that special concern "is caused by the fact that 1.5 years after the death of 48 people in the fire in Odessa’s Trade Unions House, surrounded on May 2, 2014 by militants of the Ukrainian extremist organization Right Sector, banned in Russia, a number of active participants of those events have not been charged, investigation on many episodes has not been started, some proofs on the case of the fire have been destroyed and the investigation, which is being conducted, is one-sided, fragmentary, contradictory and could hardly lead to establishment of the truth."

"Up until now, the materials of the investigation lack proper assessments of the fact that police and other representatives of the authorities did not take required measures to prevent and put out the fire in the Trade Unions House in time," she said.

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.

Zakharova said Russia is calling on the authorities of Ukraine and other Council of Europe member states to "keep supporting in all possible ways the activity of the International Advisory Panel under the CE auspices up to the moment when the Ukrainian authorities complete investigation of mass violations of the European Convention on Human Rights on the territory of that country."

After a coup occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, mass protests soon erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, mostly Russian speakers, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

In response, Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of "an antiterrorism operation" in east Ukraine, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists, many of whom hold far-right and neo-Nazi views.

Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fierce fighting with local militias during Kiev’s punitive operation, underway since mid-April 2014, against the breakaway territories - the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics constituting parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.

Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in the area.

Kiev has regularly violated the ceasefire regime imposed as part of the Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk Agreements.

The Package (Minsk-2) was signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by participants of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbass.

The Package, earlier agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) envisioned an overwhelming cessation of fire and withdrawal of heavy armaments to create a security area in the region at least 50 kilometers wide.

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