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Moscow says tensions in Ukraine's Odessa ahead of tragedy anniversary worrisome

April 29, 18:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW MOSCOW April, 29. /TASS
A total of 3,500 police and 300 Ukrainian security service agents will maintain law and order in the Ukrainian city of Odessa in the coming days
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People commemorating victims of the 2 May 2014 trade unions building fire in Odessa (archive)

People commemorating victims of the 2 May 2014 trade unions building fire in Odessa (archive)

© Mikhail Sokolov/TASS

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed serious concern over the reports of growing tensions in Odessa on the eve of the May 2, 2014 tragedy, the ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and rule of law Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement.

"For the past two years we have observed an extremely unfavorable state of affairs regarding the investigation of the May 2, 2014 tragedy in Odessa," the diplomat said. "The investigation the Ukrainian authorities claim to have carried out, according to the report of the international consultative group of the Council of Europe for Ukraine of November 4, 2015, absolutely disagrees with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the criteria of independence, effectiveness and impartiality of the investigation to be completed within reasonable deadlines."

"In part, there’ve been major violations of investigation standards, such as the abuse of the principle of impartiality in the administration of justice, unjustified delays of the investigation of actions by the police and the fire-fighting service, and gross omissions committed in the process of gathering evidence and conducting corresponding forensic examinations," Dolgov said.

"The impunity of those responsible for the arson in Odessa remains a hard fact, although by all odds Kiev and a number of other Western capitals appear to be pretending that this is normal and disagrees with the principles of the rule of law and the basic norms of international law regarding human rights," Dolgov said.

"We are urging the international human rights institutions and mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council, the CE Commissioner for Human Rights, the CE Secretary-General and also the authoritarian international non-governmental organizations to step up their actions in relation to the Odessa affair and cause effective pressures on Kiev in order to make it investigate the case and bring those responsible to justice at last," Dolgov said.

At the same time he emphasized Moscow’s "serious concern over the latest reports about growing tensions in Odessa and the gradual redeployment of radically minded well-trained nationalists from the groups Aidar and Azov and other signs of preparations for more provocations in that city.

"There should be no impunity for crimes in Ukraine," Dolgov said.

Crack unit Alfa with special gear and weapons arrives in Ukraine’s Odessa

The acting chief of the Odessa Region’s police force, Georgy Lordkipanidze, and chief of the regional division of the Ukrainian Security Service SBU, Sergey Batrakov, have told a joint news briefing on Friday that law enforcement agencies in Odessa would tighten security on April 30 through May 10 and introduce anti-terrorist street patrols, .

"Starting from today all of our men are to enhance policing measures. Also, we’ve got reinforcements from the central headquarters - the crack unit Alfa with special equipment and weapons, operatives from the central SBU office and all special units that are responsible for struggle against terrorism - an extra 300 men all in all," Batrakov said.

SBU agents will be present at all entrances to the city and at border checkpoints, especially those on the border with Trans-Dniestria and Moldova.

A total of 3,500 police and 300 SBU agents will maintain law and order in the city.

Lordkipanidze added that in the morning of May 2 metal frame detectors would be placed at entrances to Kulikovo Field square.

Batrakov replied to a statement by the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharcheko regarding the possibility of a video linkup with Odessa.

"I can only repeat what our men have already told him - wishful thinking," Batrakov said.

The tragedy at the Odessa House of Trade Unions occurred on May 2, 2014. A sign-up campaign in support of a referendum turned into clashes between nationalist activists of the Right Sector and the Maidan self-defense groups on the one side and federalization supporters on the other side. The clashes resulted in the local House of Trade Unions being set on fire. More than 200 people were injured in the tragedy while 48 lost their lives.

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