ODESSA, March 13, /ITAR-TASS/. Reinforced police patrols wearing helmets and armed with submachine guns appeared in the streets of the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on Thursday, March 13, to ward off possible actions by radical groups who may try to destabilise the situation, the press service of the regional interior department said.
It did not name the radical groups but said that similar measures had been taken across the whole of southeastern Ukraine. “They mean increased alert in case we need to detain an armed offender or a criminal group that endangers public order,” the press service said.
Local observers link this to a march to be held by Odessa public organisations on March 16. They call for referenda on government decentralisation in Ukraine, on the status of Russian as an official language, and on the foreign policy of the country. The opponents of the Kiev authorities are forming “a headquarters of protesting forces” and setting up a tent city in the centre of Odessa to collect signatures in support of a plebiscite.
Public activists organised a demonstration against false and biased coverage of the situation in Ukraine by mass media and smashed several TV sets in front of the local television and radio company as a mark of protest. They also gave out books by Russian classics.
A demonstration in support of the referendum on the status of Crimea (autonomy within Ukraine) will be held in Odessa on March 14. A thousand-strong rally against the Kiev authorities is scheduled for March 16.