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Crimea observes 3-day mourning over tragic events in Ukraine’s southeast

May 04, 2014, 5:30 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL
The highest death toll took place in the southern city of Odessa
1 pages in this article
© EPA/ALEXEY FURMAN

SIMFEROPOL, May 04. /ITAR-TASS/. The republic of Crimea is observing a three-day mourning over Friday’s tragic events, which claimed dozens of lives across Ukraine’s southeastern regions.

The days of mourning on May 3,4 and 5 were declared upon an order from Sergei Aksyonov, the acting head of Crimea.

All flags across the republic were lowered to half-mast and local authorities of all levels as well as radio and television administrations were asked to cancel festivities and entertainment programs dedicated to May 1 celebrations.

Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February, erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions in March after Crimea's incorporation by Russia. Demonstrators, who are demanding referendums on the country’s federalization, seized some government buildings.

Crimea's urge to reunify with Russia was caused by the republic's refusal to accept the new Kiev authorities. In a March 16 referendum, Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and accede to Russia. The reunification deal with Moscow was signed March 18.

On Friday, Ukraine witnessed the bloodiest violence since the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February with the death toll exceeding the figure of 60.

The highest death toll took place in the southern city of Odessa. A total of 46 people were killed and over 200 wounded after radicals attacked pro-federalization activists and then set on fire Odessa’s Trade Union House with activists inside, burning them alive.

The violence erupted in Odessa in the daytime on Friday with a mass brawl at Grecheskaya Street. It was reportedly instigated by football fans from Kharkov and Right Sector and Self-Defense radicals from Kiev, who decided to organize a march on Odessa streets.

They provoked clashes with federalization supporters. Forcing them out, radicals set fire to a camp at Kulikovo Field where activists collected signatures to hold a referendum on federalization of Ukraine and the official status of the Russian language. Activists from the camp escaped to the located nearby Trade Union House, and radicals set fire to the building.

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