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VIENNA, May 10, 1:41 /ITAR-TASS/. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has strongly condemned Friday’s deadly violence in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk Region, and urged the conflicting sides to take “immediate steps” towards the resolution of the conflict.
Ukrainian law enforcers reportedly attacked participants in the Victory Day rally on May 9 in Mariupol as they gathered in front of the local police department building in an attempt to prevent its seizure by law enforcers.
The Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, said in a statement posted on the organization’s website that “he was saddened to hear of the deadly fighting today in Mariupol.”
“I strongly condemn the violence, and call upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to take immediate steps to de-escalate a situation which has caused the loss of many lives, and created a climate of fear and anxiety,” Apakan stated.
Russia’s Rossiya-24 television channel reported earlier that Ukraine’s law enforcers, who are conducting the so-called “counter-terrorist operation” in Mariupol, used armored vehicles against civilians on May 9.
Data on the number of victims in Mariupol’s violence on Friday varies. Rossiya-24 reported citing the press service of the Donetsk region administration that three were killed and 25 wounded, while the Ukrainian Interior Ministry stated that about 20 protesters and one policeman were killed and five more wounded.
According to earlier reports, a freelance staffer of Russia’s RT television channel was also wounded in Mariupol hostilities.
Vitaly Ivanov, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in an interview with Itar-Tass that 20 civilians had been wounded and ten killed in fire, which the armored vehicles opened.
According to Ivanov, Ukrainian law enforcers opened gunfire on policemen inside the building. Eyewitnesses said the building was riddled with bullets and then set on fire.
Ivanov added that in a separate development of events Ukrainian law enforcers also set ablaze the building of the Mariupol City Council.
Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev as a result of a coup in February, erupted in the country’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories after Crimea’s merger with Russia on March 18.
Southeastern Ukrainian protesters, who seek the country’s federalization and demand broader powers for their regions, have seized some of the government buildings in the region.
The Kiev authorities launched the so-called “antiterrorism operation” in eastern Ukraine. Russia, which does not recognize the de facto Ukrainian leaders, had condemned the operation, apparently aimed to crack down on Ukrainian federalization supporters.