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Russia urges OSCE to demand investigation into 2014 Odessa tragedy from Kiev — ministry

Zakharova noted that the Council of Europe was one of the few organizations that attempted to investigate the Odessa tragedy

MOSCOW, May 1. /TASS/. Russia urges the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe (CE) to press for a fair and impartial investigation into mass crimes committed by Ukrainian radicals in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa in 2014, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Friday.

"We reiterate our call to the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations dealing with similar matters to press for an honest and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned mass crimes, in full compliance with Ukraine’s international obligations," she said. "The bloody massacre in Odessa and other crimes committed by radical nationalists must not be left unpunished, and their organizers and perpetrators must receive the punishment they deserve."

Zakharova noted that the Council of Europe was one of the few organizations that attempted to investigate the Odessa tragedy. In 2014, the International Advisory Panel was constituted on an initiative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, to assist investigation into crimes committed during riots in Ukraine. Initially, its mandate was limited to acts of violence that took place during the Maidan riots in Kiev, but was later extended to include the Odessa events as well.

"In the report, published on November 4, 2015, the group noted the unsatisfactory nature of the investigation and its non-compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and practices of the European Court of Human Rights," the Russian diplomat said.

In her words, the International Advisory Panel’s findings have not led to any serious effect.

"The leadership and bodies of the Council of Europe, which seeks to portray itself as a leading human rights organization, turn a blind eye to the lack of progress in investigating and bringing to justice those responsible for mass deaths during Maidan riots and in Odessa. Such a passive attitude undermines trust in the Council of Europe and devalues its authority with regard to other human rights matters," Zakharova said.

She went on to say that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), which has been working in Ukraine for seven years, "has been unable to make any consistent report, evaluating the investigation into the Odessa tragedy, confining itself to coverage of rallies on the anniversasry of those tragic events."

According to the Russian diplomat, the SMM has already been working in Ukraine at the time when fire was set to the Odessa House of Trade Unions, and the tragedy could not have been left unnoticed by its staff.

"Even if observers have any information about this crime and about the investigation - or, to be more precise, about how it was sabotaged - they remain silent for reasons that are unclear to us," she added.


The Odessa tragedy

On May 2, 2014, Ukrainian radical nationalists, including members of the Pravy Sektor organization (or Right Sector, outlawed in Russia) set fire to the House of Trade Unions in the city of Odessa, where people protecting against the 2014 Ukrainian coup had found shelter. According to official estimates, the clashes killed 48 people, most of whom lost their lives in the Trade Union House fire, while 240 more people were reported to be injured in the inferno and its aftermath.

The government accused "anti-Maidan" supporters of being the instigators, however, the investigation was unable to prove their case in court. As a result, everyone initially detained in relation to this case was released.

In September 2019, Ukraine’s National Bureau of Investigation opened a case against former speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Andrei Parubiy in relation to the events in Odessa. Parubiy himself said that his actions in the criminal case are classified as "creation and coordination of armed groups with the aim to organize mass disturbances.".