ODESSA, May 09. /ITAR-TASS/. A red banner commemorating the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 has been hoisted over the Odessa House of Trade Unions, where on May 2 several dozen people died in fire after Right Sector radicals and supporters of "Maidan self-defense force" from Kiev set the building ablaze.
The 69th anniversary of victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, as the four-year-long life-or-death battle between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany is known in Russia and other former Soviet republics, is being celebrated much quieter than ever in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa this year. The authorities have cancelled most of mass events due to lingering tensions in the city.
However, hundreds of men and women have come to the Unknown Sailor Memorial in Odessa’s Taras Shevchenko Park to honor the Soviet soldiers who perished in the formidable war years.
Many gathered in Kulikovo Field square, where radicals set fire to a tent camp of Ukraine’s federalization supporters.
“We have plans to put up a new tent camp after May 9,” the regional legislature's member and Odessa mayoral candidate, Aleksey Albu, said. “This time, there will be many more people there.”
Unrest in Odessa started on May 2 in the afternoon, when football fans from the east Ukrainian city of Kharkiv marched along the city streets with Right Sector radicals and supporters from Kiev's "Maidan" activists. Clashes broke out with campaigners seeking a referendum on the issue of Ukrainian federalization and Russian's official status as a state language.
A total of 46 people died and more than 200 were injured in clashes in Odessa after radicals set ablaze the House of Trade Unions, where pro-federalization activists took refuge, and the tent camp where activists were collecting signatures in support of the referendum.