KIEV, April 20, /ITAR-TASS/. Three residents of the town of Slavyansk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region were killed overnight to Sunday when unidentified gunmen attacked a block station near that town, the mass media reported. The Ukrainian interior ministry confirmed these reports.
According to media reports, at the moment of the attack, the block post was guarded by unarmed local residents who were tasked to check incoming cars and notify self-defence forces in case Ukrainian troops approached the area. Several cars drove up to the block station and opened gunfire. Shortly after, men from self-denfence forces arrived at the site and killed two attackers.
The division of Ukraine’s interior ministry in the Donetsk region confirmed the death of three people in the skirmish in Slavyansk. The interior ministry’s version was “unidentified persons in four cars approached the block station and opened fire at the people guarding it.” The source said three people had been killed in the skirmish /two local residents, the third is being identified/, and three more were wounded.
Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the people’s mayor of Slavyansk, told Itar-Tass that documents of the Right Sector had been found among personal belonging of the radicals who attacked a block station near Slavyansk. “Personal belongings of a militant killed in the skirmish had a Right Sector badge number 20,” he said. “Badge number one is held by [Right Sector leader] Dmitry Yarosh. At the site of the incident, we also found a Yugoslav machine-gun, an analogue of German MG 42 machine guns the German army was armed with during WWII.” The attackers in four cars approached the block station near Slavyansk in the vicinity of the village of Bylbasovka. When the block station guards urged them to stop, they opened gunfire.
According to the Slavyansk mayor, two block station guards were killed in the skirmish, one more died later in hospital, there others were wounded. Two attackers were killed, five more were wounded in exchange of fire.
Ponomaryov also said that from Sunday on, the people’s volunteer corps of Donbass would impose a curfew: civilians, with an exception of officers of emergency services, would be banned to move around the town from midnight till six in the morning.
The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the armed clashes in Slavyansk, claiming that the provocation had been organized by radicals. It proves the Ukrainian authorities are not willing to disarm nationalists and extremists, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “At the night of Sunday, April 20, the Easter armistice was broken in Slavyansk. The attack of the armed militants from the so-called Right Sector claimed lives of innocent civilians… The Russian side is indignant at this provocation of the militants, which proves Kiev’s authorities are not willing to control and disarm the nationalists and extremists.”
“We are surprises that the tragedy happened already after signing on April 17 in the Geneva the statement of the four-sided meeting featuring representatives of Russia, the United State, the European Union and Ukraine, which contains the urge to refrain from any force actions, threats and provocations,” the foreign ministry said. “The Russian side demands that the Ukrainian side strictly fulfill its liabilities on the de-escalation of the situation in Ukraine’s southeastern regions.”
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry came out with a response statement, calling on Russia to use its influence on the people’s volunteer corps in Slavyansk to make them “vacate buildings they are illegally keeping, unblock roads, surrender arms and prevent bloodshed.”
“Ukraine’s security agencies have instituted an investigation into the incident that took place overnight to Sunday in the town of Slavyansk, which ended up in human deaths,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. “It is surprising that having no official data, the Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to issue a comment with accusations,” the ministry said. “Such hasty conclusions mean that they are either ungrounded or made on the basis of distorted reports received from its own local agents.”
“The Russian side should be reminded about its liabilities under the Geneva agreements and exert all possible influence on separatists to make them vacate illegally seized buildings, unblock roads, surrender arms and prevent further bloodshed,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Security Service said that neither of Ukrainian organizations had been behind a night skirmish near the town of Slavyansk (Donetsk region) that claimed a number of human lives. Not a single representative from any of Ukraine’s organizations was in Slavyansk last night, the press service of the Ukrainian Security Service said.
“Last night, no representatives from any Ukrainian organization were in Slavyansk, but for saboteurs and criminals,” the press service said, adding that it was proved by the investigation Ukrainian law enforcers were carrying out in that town. The Ukrainian Security Service denied media reports that Right Sector radicals had taken part in the skirmish.
In the mean time, on the occasion of the Easter holiday, Ukraine’s interior ministry called on former officers of the Berkut riot police to help the country “in the face of external aggression.” “You have always been the elite law enforcement force. You have never spared yourselves and your lives to protect the people. Now, our motherland, Ukraine, needs your help like never before. Although yesterday, Berkut and Self-defence were on the opposite sides of barricades, now, in the face of external aggression, all citizens must be aware that they are the children of their common motherland,” the ministry said in an address to officers of the Berkut unit, which was disbanded by parliament-appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov on Fenruary 26.
“We call on everyone who is not indifferent to the fate of our state to reconcile and united,” the ministry stressed.