Ukraine: Police is sharing the blame for the death of opposition protesters

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The European Council is heavily criticizing the investigation surrounding the arson attack in Ukrainian Odessa. Police, fire department and the Interior Minister failed to act. More than 40 opposition members died as a result of the attack.

Ukraine: Police is sharing the blame for the death of opposition protesters

This article originally appeared at DWN, translated exclusively for South Front by Frank.

The EU-council said the Ukrainian police was one of the entities responsible for the violent clashes between supporters and adversaries of the newly formed government, which lead to the death of 48 people and several hundred injured in May last year. There is “significant evidence” that proves the culpability of the police during the “tragic events”, a report released on Wednesday reads. The three authors accuse the Ukrainian authorities of massive negligence regarding the investigation.

The work group was headed by former president of the European Court of Justice, Nicolas Bratza. The Briton was supported by former Ukrainian judge of the Strasbourg Court of Justice, Wolodomir Butkevich, and by former prosecutor general of Ukraine, Oleg Anpilogov.

The Investigations were neither independent nor efficient, the lawmen criticized. To this day it hasn’t been established why the police remained more or less passive and did “if at all only little” to intervene between the rival factions, to put an end to the violence. The police did not even react to distress calls at the beginning at all, according to witnesses.

The detention of violent perpetrators among the 2000 demonstrators started with a delay of several hours after the start of the clashes, the authors emphasized in regard to details given by the Ukrainian ombudsman. At that time there were already 41 fatalities. Finally after one year the Ukrainian general prosecutor of Odessa pressed charges against former regional head of police Petro Luzjuk.

42 of the victims were part of the opposition to the pro-Western government in Kiev. The majority lost their lives in the fire that broke out in the Union house where they were entrenched in – a fire which was the result of arson, the investigation revealed. According to the report, a supporter of the government was able to enter the house through the backdoor. The arsonists are not identified to this day. Other victims died of gun shot wounds or Molotov-cocktails.

According to the European Council it took the fire department 40 minutes to arrive, even though they were swiftly informed shortly after the fire broke out and even though the fire department is in the near vicinity of the Union house. The reasons for the delay are also unclear to this day.

The authors criticized that the investigations were not lead by an independent committee but from the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior – the superiors of police and fire department. This was not in accordance to the rules of the European Convention of Human Rights for neutral investigations. “Highly alarming” was the term used for the decision made by a Ukrainian court to close the proceedings in a lawsuit that accused two activists of murder in several cases. Witnesses said that one of the accused was beating people that jumped out of the burning house to escape the flames with a wooden club.

Members of the Ukrainian parliament introduced a proposal for a new law that gives amnesty to pro-government participants of the clashes, according to the report. The draft is referring by name to the two activists accused of murder whose proceedings have been closed and who are accused of murder.

The work group has raised similar accusations in regard to the investigation of the violent clashes on Maidan in February 2014 with about 100 fatalities. The investigations were accused to be inconsistent partly because of “obstruction” through the Ministry of Interior, a report published in March reads.

The representative of the European Council met several counterparts of the government, the prosecution, members of parliament as well as employees of human rights organizations. As in the past they are again criticizing that the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior is not allowing full insight into the investigation file.

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  • Doom Sternz

    “Ten days before the Odesa tragedy a secret meeting was held in Kiev, chaired by the incumbent president Olexander Turchinov, to prepare a special operation in Odessa. Present were minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service Valentin Nalivaychenko, and the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy. Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy, the Kiev-appointed head of regional administration of the Dnepropetrovsk region, was consulted in regard to the operation.

    During that meeting Arsen Avakov has reportedly came up with the idea of using football hooligans, known as “ultras,” in the operation. Ever since his time as the head of the Kharkov regional administration he has worked closely with the fans leaders, whom he continued to sponsor even from his new home in Italy. Kolomoisky temporarily delivered his private “Dnieper-1” Battalion under the command of law-enforcement officials in Odessa and also authorized a cash payment of $5,000 for “each pro-Russian separatist” killed during the special operation.

    A couple of days before the operation in Odessa Andriy Parubiy brought dozens of bullet-proof vests to local ultra-nationalists. Ultranationalist militants from the extremist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA-UNSO), who could be recognized by their red armbands, were also used during the operation. They were assigned a key role in the staging of the provocations: they masqueraded as the defenders of the tent city on Kulikovo Field, and then lured its occupants into the House of Trade Unions to be slaughtered.

    Fifteen roadblocks were set up outside of Odessa, secured by militants under the personal command of Kolomoisky’s “Dnieper-1” Battalion, as well as Right Sector’s thugs from Dnepropetrovsk and the western regions of Ukraine. In addition, two military units from the Self-Defense of Maidan arrived in Odessa, under the command of the acting head of the administration of the president, Sergey Pashinsky – the same man who was caught with a sniper rifle in the trunk of his car on Feb. 18 on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev.

    The role of the Odessa police forces in the operation was personally directed by the head of the regional police, Petr Lutsyuk, and his deputy Dmitry Fucheji.

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    • solerso

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