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Odessa City Council member flees to Crimea to avoid repressions

March 22, 2014, 21:46 UTC+3 ODESSA

Following the arrest of Anton Davidchenko, head of the coordination council for public organisations in the region, Alexander Vasilyev said he had every reason to expect his arrest

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ODESSA, March 22, /ITAR-TASS/. Odessa City Council Deputy Alexander Vasilyev has fled to neighbouring Crimea, which is now a part of Russia, for fear of repressions from the new Ukrainian authorities.

Following the arrest of Anton Davidchenko, head of the coordination council for public organisations in the region, Vasilyev said he had every reason to expect his arrest after questioning at the Ukrainian Security Service, local mass media reported on Saturday, March 22.

“I cannot disclose all the details, but believe me, I had every reason to think that after Davidchenko’s arrest a visit to the Security Service would be a one-way ticket for me,” Vasilyev said, adding that the new authorities had accused him of separatism.

“I was fighting for civil rights, for human dignity, against corruption, and I was defending the interests of the city in the City Council,” he said and noted that his only guilt was that “I allowed myself to remain Russian to the end”.

A mass rally is to take place in Odessa on Sunday, March 23. Its organisers said they would bring thousands of people into the streets to demand Davidchenko’s release and an end to political repressions in the country. On Wednesday, March 19, Kiev’s Shevchenkovsky Court ruled to put Davidchenko into custody for two months.

By going to the rally, residents of Odessa want to show that arrests will neither frighten nor force them to stop the fight for their legitimate rights, including the right to hold referenda on decentralistion of government, the official status of the Russian language and the foreign policy of the country.

The Odessa court rejected a petition for a ban on the Sunday rally, which had been filed by several public organisations that support the new authorities in Kiev. They said that the rally organisers “are planning to promote separatist mottoes and are trying to seize administrative buildings with the help of gunmen from other regions”.

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