ODESSA, November 13. /TASS/. A court in Odessa on Thursday held the first session in a case over seven activists of the anti-Maidan movement who are accused of participation in combat actions in the country’s southeast on the side of much-troubled unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic.
Prosecutors have issued charges to the activists with setting up of a terrorist group, attempts at the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine and illegal storage of weaponry, which may land with in jail with terms of five to fifteen years.
Investigators claim that officers of the Ukrainian Security Service detained six residents of the Odessa region on May 15 on the outskirts of the city of Odessa while they were heading in a van to the east of the country. A woman who had rented the van was arrested later on charges of organizing delivery of mercenaries to the East.
The defendants, all of them activist of the Kulikovo Pole public movement, deny any guilt on their part. They say they were heading for Kherson, the administrative center of the neighboring region to get shelter there from the repressions, which Ukrainian ultra-right nationals unleashed in Odessa after the May 2 massacre.
A tragedy occurred in Odessa in the afternoon of May 2 when football ultras from the northeast city of Kharkov marched along city streets in the company Right Sector neo-Nazis and supporters from Kiev's Maidan Self-Defence Force.
At some point, clashes between the mob and campaigners seeking a referendum on the issue of Ukrainian federalisation and Russian's official status as a state language broke out.
Some of the pro-democracy protesters and activists of the anti-Maidan movements tried to take shelter in the regional House of Trade Unions, but the neo-Nazis set fire to the building and a nearby tent camp where signatures in support of the referendum had been gathered.
Eyewitness accounts and video footage made by the attackers themselves testified to a rampage and manslaughter that they organized inside the smoldering House of the Trade Unions later.
Some Ukrainian politicians said the clashes took the lives of at least 116 people. The incumbent authorities in Kiev have done their best to conceal the true facts and figures related to the mayhem.
The court will have the next session November 20. All the defendants have been taken to custody.