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Ukraine’s lawmakers propose to set up commission for Odessa tragedy investigation

May 07, 2014, 13:32 UTC+3

The commission may be provided aid from FBI and Israeli experts

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© ITAR-TASS/Andrei Borovskiy

KIEV, May 7. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s parliament members intend to set up an interim investigative commission for the investigation of tragic events that took place in Odessa on May 2. According to MP Oleksandra Kuzhel from the Batkivshchyna party faction, experts from the FBI and Israeli specialists may provide assistance in the tragedy’s investigation.

“We will support the creation of this commission. We need to clearly establish what has happened,” the lawmaker said. May 6, Ukraine’s parliament-appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov informed about the participation of foreign experts in the investigation, although he did not specify which states would represent these specialists.

Kuzhel admitted that the circumstances of people’s deaths raised multiple questions. “Why the victims had only their faces burnt, but woolen clothes remained untouched by the fire?” she wondered. “There are many questions. Experts should provide the answers,” Kuzhel emphasized. Ukraine’s presidential nominee, MP Petro Poroshenko claimed there was evidence that poisoning gas was applied in Odessa’s House of trade unions. Earlier, parliament-appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema told about this version. It was also confirmed by testimonies of physicians, who aided the injured.

What happened in Odessa

Riots in Odessa started May 2 in the afternoon, when football fans from Kharkiv, as well as Right Sector activists and representatives of the so-called Maidan self-defense forces from Kiev staged a march on the city’s streets. In the course of this action, clashes with Ukraine’s federalization supporters began. The radicals set on fire the regional House of trade unions and the tent camp on the Kulikovo Field square, where signatures were being collected for holding a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization and the status of Russian language.

According to official data, 46 people died and 48 people are reported missing. Many Ukrainian politicians, including lawmaker Oleh Tsariov and member of Odessa Regional Council Vadim Savenko, believe these figures are understated. They claim that there are about 116 casualties, and the authorities are keeping it back and trying to cover tracks of the tragedy.

“We really know what in fact happened to the casualties – they were just included in the ‘missing’ column,” Savenko told journalists. He accused the authorities of “an attempt to cover the Right Sector militants and activists of the so-called Maidan self-defense forces who staged a massacre in Odessa”. It is noteworthy that head of Odessa’s police Petro Lutsyuk, who was dismissed soon after the tragedy, also demanded from the ex-governor Vladimir Nemirovsky to withdraw the militants sent by Kiev authorities.

“Since a big number of people without supervision were staying in Kiev, the authorities decided to send these units to Odessa. We do not need this. They arrived to destabilize the situation,” Lutsyuk said at a regional council’s session on April 4. He added that “these militants have set up in the region 12 checkpoints with an unclear legal status, where more than 500 people are in rotating teams”. The police also discovered a warehouse that they equipped to store weapons and supplies. However, Nemirovsky supported the militants, noting that “they are needed to control the activities of the police”.

The new head of Odessa’s police, who succeeded Lutsyuk, Ivan Katerinchuk, ordered the police officers to open effective fire in case of attacks on law enforcement representatives. “The time of uncertainty is over. We have held consultations and set tasks. In case of attacks on police precincts and stations we will act in compliance with law – first, a warning shot in the air, and then we will apply lethal force. Not a single group carrying weapons, either melee weapons or firearms, will be able to move through the city, regardless of their political views,” he stated. According to Katerinchuk, order in Odessa will be provided not only by the already available police forces, but also by the Storm special task unit, set up by new authorities from volunteers and employees of private security agencies.

62 people injured during the May 2 events remain in Odessa’s hospitals, with 26 of them in critical condition, who are placed in intensive care.

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