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Excerpt: "At least 42 people were killed in street battles between supporters and opponents of Russia in southern Ukraine that ended with dozens of pro-Russian protesters incinerated in a burning building, bringing the country closer to war."

Pro-Russian rebels with baseball bats, chains and handguns. (photo: BBC)
Pro-Russian rebels with baseball bats, chains and handguns. (photo: BBC)


Ukraine: European Observers Freed as Death Toll Mounts

By Miran Jelenek and Maria Tsvetkova, Reuters

03 May 14

 

t least 42 people were killed in street battles between supporters and opponents of Russia in southern Ukraine that ended with dozens of pro-Russian protesters incinerated in a burning building, bringing the country closer to war.

Pro-Russian rebels in the east freed seven European military observers on Saturday after holding them hostage for eight days, while Kiev pressed on with its biggest military operation so far to reclaim rebel-held territory in the area.

The riot in the Black Sea port of Odessa, ending in a deadly blaze in a besieged trade union building, was by far the worst incident in Ukraine since a February uprising that ended with a pro-Russian president fleeing the country.

It also spread the violence from the eastern separatist heartland to an area far from the Russian frontier, raising the prospect of unrest sweeping more broadly across a country of around 45 million people the size of France.

The Kremlin, which has massed tens of thousands of soldiers on the Ukraine's eastern border and proclaims the right to invade to protect Russian speakers, said the government in Kiev and its Western backers were responsible for the deaths.

Kiev said the violence was provoked by foreign demonstrators sent in from Transdniestria, a nearby breakaway pro-Russian region of Moldova where Moscow has a military garrison. It said most of the dead who had been identified so far were from there.

On Saturday morning, people placed flowers near the burnt-out doors of the trade union building, lighting candles and putting up the yellow, white and red flag of the city. The burnt remains of a tented camp of pro-Russian demonstrators nearby had been swept away. People spoke of their horror at what happened.

About 2,000 pro-Russian protesters gathered outside the burnt-out building, chanting: "Odessa is a Russian city".

At the nearby hospital, residents queued up to offer blood and others tried to find out what medicine was needed so they could go out to buy it.

Oleg Konstantinov, a journalist covering the events for a local Internet site, said bullets had flown in the melee before the blaze: "I was hit in the arm, then I started crawling, and then got hit in the back and leg."

The Odessa bloodshed came on the same day that Kiev launched its biggest push yet to reassert its control over separatist areas in the east, hundreds of kilometers away, where armed pro-Russian rebels have proclaimed a "People's Republic of Donetsk".

The rebels there aim to hold a referendum on May 11 on secession from Ukraine, similar to one staged in March in Ukraine's Crimea region, which was seized and annexed by Russia in a move that overturned the post-Cold War diplomatic order.

"NOT STOPPING"

On Saturday the government said it was pressing on with the offensive in the area for a second day, and had recaptured a television tower and a security services building from rebels in Kramatorsk, a town near the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk.

"We are not stopping," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a post on Facebook. "The active phase of the operation continued at dawn."

Rebels in Slaviansk, their most heavily fortified redoubt, shot down two Ukrainian helicopters on Friday, killing two crew, and stalled an advance by Ukrainian troops in armored vehicles. Separatists said three fighters and two civilians were killed in Friday's Ukrainian advance on the town.

Vasyl Krutov, head of a government "anti-terrorist centre" behind the operation in the east, told a news conference there was gunfire and fighting around Kramatorsk: "What we are facing in the Donetsk region and in the eastern regions is not just some kind of short-lived uprising, it is in fact a war."

The military operation in the east was overshadowed by the unprecedented violence in Odessa, a vibrant multi-ethnic port city that has seen some support for separatists but nothing like the riots that erupted on Friday.

Police said four people were killed, at least three shot dead, and dozens wounded in running battles between people backing Kiev and pro-Russian activists.

The clashes ended with separatists holed up in the large Soviet-era granite-walled trade union building. Video footage showed petrol bombs exploding against its walls.

At least 37 people died in the blaze. On Saturday, police raised the overall death toll in the city to 42. It was easily the biggest death toll since about 100 people were killed in Kiev protests that toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich in February.

"Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it," RIA Novosti quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling reporters.

Peskov also said Friday's violence made the idea of holding presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25 "absurd".

Kiev's Interior Ministry blamed the pro-Russian protesters, saying they had attacked the pro-Ukrainians before retreating to the trade union headquarters, from where they opened fire on the crowd and threw out the petrol bombs that caused the blaze.

Odessa is located in the southwest of Ukraine, far from the eastern areas held by the rebels and far from the Russian frontier where Moscow has amassed troops. But it is close to Moldova's Transdniestria region, where Russia also has troops.

The spread of violence to Odessa expands the zone of unrest across the breadth of southern and eastern Ukraine.

"Today we Ukrainians are constantly being pushed into confrontation, into civil conflict, toward the destruction of our country to its heart. We cannot allow this to happen and we must be united in the fight against a foreign enemy," said acting President Oleksander Turchinov.

Regional police chief Petro Lutsiuk said on Saturday more than 130 people had been detained and could face charges ranging from participating in riots to premeditated murder.

BIRTHDAY GUESTS

The release of the military monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe resolves a major diplomatic issue for the West. The separatists had captured the team on April 25 and described them as prisoners of war.

One Swede was freed earlier on health grounds while four Germans, a Czech, a Dane and a Pole were still being held until Saturday. A Russian envoy helped negotiate their release.

The separatist leader in Slaviansk, self-proclaimed "people's mayor" Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, said they were freed along with five Ukrainian captives, with no conditions.

"As I promised them, we celebrated my birthday yesterday and they left. As I said, they were my guests."

The OSCE team's leader, German Colonel Axel Schneider, speaking on the road out of Slaviansk after being freed said: "You can imagine, it's a big relief. The situation was really tough. The last two nights when you see what was going on, every minute gets longer."

He praised his captor Ponomaryov as "a man who's word counts a lot. He's a man who listens".

Western countries blame Russia for stoking the separatism and fear Moscow could be planning to repeat its annexation of Crimea in other parts of Ukraine.

Russia denies it has such plans, while saying it could intervene if necessary to protect Russian speakers, a new doctrine unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in March that overturned decades of post-Soviet diplomacy.

The West has made clear it will not use military force to protect Ukraine but will rely on economic sanctions against Moscow to, in the words of U.S. President Barack Obama, change Putin's "calculus".

So far Moscow has shrugged off sanctions, which so far have included measures only against individuals and small companies.

Obama and Merkel said on Friday they would seek tougher measures, including hitting whole sectors of the Russian economy, if Moscow interferes with Ukraine's May 25 vote.

 

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+18 # RMDC 2014-05-03 07:41
This reminds me of the prograss of the war against Vietnam. Elections were scheduled by the French and the UN, but the US -CIA escalated the violence by means of terrorist bombings and the actions of its puppet government in the south so that elections had to be postponed. The elections never took place.

Now the CIA and its puppet Nazi regime in Kiev are facing elections this summer. It is not likely that the people of Ukraine will elect anyone from the Nazi parties who were paid by the EU and US to overthrow the Yanukovich government and bring all this violence to Ukraine. Someone else would win.

But as long as the violence goes on, there won't be elections. This is a CIA practice that has been followed in many nations all over the earth. The CIA now has control of the government apparatus in Kiev and violence will keep that control. And as in Vietnam, the US will blame the violence and the postponing of the elections on Russia or the people who are resisting the Nazi Regime in Kiev.

In the end, however, the CIA will lose. All what will have happened is that Ukraine will have suffered, just like El Salvador, Vietnam, Guatemala, and about 80 other nations.
 
 
+15 # Johnny 2014-05-03 08:09
Interesting how the fascist media characterize the conflict as "pro-Russian rebels" against "Ukrainian troops" rather than "supporters of the democratically elected government" against "unelected putschist regime."
 
 
-1 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 08:27
What you're saying is that should Mexico elect a president that is anti-USA then we should send in "pro-american" patriots to "protect" US citizens and take over government buildings.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-05 10:11
Quoting bmiluski:
What you're saying is that should Mexico elect a president that is anti-USA then we should send in "pro-american" patriots to "protect" US citizens and take over government buildings.


To answer your question, I first have to rephrase it to fit what's actually happened so far in Ukraine. The correct question should be: If Russia were to instigate a coup against a democratically elected government in Mexico that is anti-USA ... and there was a small area of Mexico that contained a large contingent of pro-USA people that didn't recognize this coup government as legitimate and those separatists stormed Mexican government buildings and asked to either be ruled by the US or to govern themselves ... and they were under threat of military attack by the coup regime for taking those government buildings ... should the US move in to protect them ? My answer would be ... Yes. But my answer doesn't matter. We both know the US would be far less reserved than Russia was. The US wouldn't limit their drive into Mexico to the area it's support resides. They'd storm in and take the whole damn country, international law be damned.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 12:34
Isn't that what putin is doing? The "pro-russians" didn't stop with Crimea they're now moving into Odessa.
While Odessa has a sizable ethnic Russian minority — around 30 percent of the population — polls have found that most residents want to remain part of Ukraine.
The people of Crimea were NEVER given the choice as to whether they wanted to be ruled by russia or if they wanted to remain part of the Ukraine. And now the same is happening in Odessa.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 09:48
Quoting bmiluski:
Isn't that what putin is doing? The "pro-russians" didn't stop with Crimea they're now moving into Odessa.
While Odessa has a sizable ethnic Russian minority — around 30 percent of the population — polls have found that most residents want to remain part of Ukraine.
The people of Crimea were NEVER given the choice as to whether they wanted to be ruled by russia or if they wanted to remain part of the Ukraine. And now the same is happening in Odessa.


Where are you getting your information ? The Crimeans absolutely voted to be annexed by Russia. I can't speak to any polls taken in Odessa because I haven't seen one. Do you have a link to this poll ?
 
 
+13 # Archie1954 2014-05-03 08:11
What is wrong with this picture? The US stirs up turmoil and violence then recognizes an illegal government resulting from its interference and everyone blames Putin. Very weird!
 
 
-1 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 10:08
Because Putin is sending in "pro russian" para-military thugs to take over government buildings. It's NOT putin's country so I guess putin is doing the same thing.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-05 10:35
Quoting bmiluski:
Because Putin is sending in "pro russian" para-military thugs to take over government buildings. It's NOT putin's country so I guess putin is doing the same thing.


You keep making that statement but the only "proof" that this is true has been US propoganda. Because the US says it's true ... you unquestioningly accept that view. Let me remind you of what else the US swore was true ... that Iraq had WMDs. How'd that "proof" pan out ?
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 12:45
And where is your proof that they are not russians.
I have Ukranian friends who are in touch with friends and family and they tell me that the "pro-russians" are indeed russians who are well armed and organized. Their families describe them as "para-military" . They are livid about Putin's invasion.
They are glad about the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Whom they believe to be a thief and to have stolen from the Ukranian people. And even if the coup was USA supported, at least the people in the new government are UNKRANIANS. This is a far cry from the russians who now want to take over the Ukraine.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 09:57
Quoting bmiluski:
And where is your proof that they are not russians.
I have Ukranian friends who are in touch with friends and family and they tell me that the "pro-russians" are indeed russians who are well armed and organized. Their families describe them as "para-military". They are livid about Putin's invasion.
They are glad about the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Whom they believe to be a thief and to have stolen from the Ukranian people. And even if the coup was USA supported, at least the people in the new government are UNKRANIANS. This is a far cry from the russians who now want to take over the Ukraine.


I don't claim to have proof that they are not Russians, I only point out that the US is more than capable of lying. Russia isn't the only ones capable of it. As for your Ukrainian friends ... haven't you stated all over the place that it was YOU who knew people in the Ukraine ? Now it's friends of friends ? Isn't it at least possible that, although your connections do support Kiev, there are others that don't ? Ukraine was ruled by Ukrainians before the coup. Because Yanukovich supported a trade agreement with Russia didn't make him Russian. He was an ELECTED official that was wise to favor the deal that Russia was offering (15 billion dollars and reduced gas prices) vs. the deal the EU/US/IMF (harsh austerity measures) are offering. Yanukovich was corrupt, no doubt, but all of the Ukrainian oligarchs were. Our guy, "Yats", is no better.
 
 
+1 # jdd 2014-05-05 10:45
Yes, the thousands of demonstrators in each and every city must be Russian agents. No doubt about it! And the Ukrainian soldiers and police who have joined with them are probably double-agents as well.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 12:47
jdd.........whe re are you getting this stuff?
 
 
+5 # Activista 2014-05-03 09:43
By the tone of this Reuters article ... usually pro NEOCON propaganda the Kiev junta is not doing very well ... read between the lines ... to have idea of horror of Odessa:
rt.com/news/156592-odessa-activists-burnt-alive/
 
 
+3 # geraldom 2014-05-03 11:42
Activista, all of this violence and death in eastern and southern Ukraine could've been completely avoided, in Odessa. in Slavyansk and in some other city mentioned on RT, if Putin had gone in with the Russian military very early on to secure these regions.

If Putin had secured these areas with the Russian military, the illegitimate Kiev govt wouldn't have dared send in the Ukraine army, and if Putin would've done this, as far as the U.S. is concerned, nothing would've changed. The U.S. is still pressing sanctions against Russia no matter what Russia does, and Russia, as it must, should reject these sanctions.

It shouldn't allow itself to be blackmailed or cajoled by extortion to capitulate to illegal U.S. demands, to put their national security at risk, especially when dealing with an incident in their own backyard and one that was actually instigated by the U.S. and its puppet military arm in Europe, NATO.

The following article totally piss me off with Putin and Russia:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/kremlin-says-kiev-west-responsible-094436109.html

Of course its the U.S. and NATO who are responsible for the bloodshed in eastern and southern Ukraine.

http://news.yahoo.com/lavrov-presses-kerry-help-stop-ukraine-assault-moscow-153313753.html

Why is Russia begging the U.S. to halt the assault by the Kiev govt in eastern and southern Ukraine. They have to know that the U.S. doesn't give a damn, and it shows weakness on their part.
 
 
+2 # geraldom 2014-05-03 15:00
Activista, the following is the latest and greatest bad news coming from RT. It seems that Putin is throwing the pro-Russian separatists in the east and southern regions of Ukraine underneath the bus.

The Ukrainian military with the help of this extremist group call the Right Sector, under the command of the illegitimate government in Kiev, are now attacking Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka, and Mariupul in the region of Donetsk, not to mention of course Slavyansk and Odessa, and the only thing I hear coming from Putin is words and finger pointing.

This is real, Activista. People are actually dying right now because the Kiev government firmly believes it can now invade any part of the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine without any fear that Russia will intercede to protect these areas.

Russia is about to lose all of Ukraine because simple words and finger pointing will not stop the illegal government of Kiev.
 
 
-1 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 10:14
This is real, Activista. People are actually dying right now because the Kiev government firmly believes it can now invade any part of the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine without any fear that Russia will intercede to protect these areas.

Russia is about to lose all of Ukraine

This is nuts........How can Kiev a Ukranian government (legal/illegal) run by Ukranians be invading it's own country? What right does putin/russia have to "protect these areas". It's not russian its Ukranian?
 
 
+3 # rhgreen 2014-05-03 17:19
I think it should quietly be made clear to Putin that Crimea can be accepted as a fait accompli, and that Russian forces within Russia will not be attacked even if they're on the border, but that the same does not apply to any Russian forces which invade the rest of Ukraine. Also indicate willingness to accept a decentralized ("federal") Ukrainian state.
 
 
+1 # jdd 2014-05-05 07:22
Actually, I think time is running out on the Kiev clique, as they have gone too far in Odessa. I think Russia will move to end the chaos or its borders as is the right of any nation via well-establishe d international law. Any notion that Obama will act rationally or fairly should have been dispelled by now.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 10:17
jdd.....let me understand this......You believe a country has the right to invade another country if it feels that that country is in chaos? So Mexico or Canada can invade the US if they feel that our country is in chaos. Which means that they would have had the right to invade the US during the Civil War and during the Civil Rights riots?
 
 
+1 # dsepeczi 2014-05-05 10:46
Quoting bmiluski:
jdd.....let me understand this......You believe a country has the right to invade another country if it feels that that country is in chaos? So Mexico or Canada can invade the US if they feel that our country is in chaos. Which means that they would have had the right to invade the US during the Civil War and during the Civil Rights riots?

Why not ? The US has proclaimed itself as protectorate of the world and, as a matter of policy, has announced to the world on several occasions that they will get involved in any conflict in it's own hemisphere. Have you ever heard of the Monroe Doctrine ? That's where we more or less told the world that everybody but the US better stay out of Latin America because we reserved the right to proclaim our whole half of the world as our "interests". Later, we expanded with the Carter doctrine, in which we announced to the world that we'd routinely "butt in" to shape events in the Middle East, which just happens to be on the other side of the world. This one was put in largely to inform the Middle East that, in the words of Bill Maher, "It may be YOUR land but it's OUR oil !"
 
 
-1 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 12:48
So you're saying it's wrong but any country has the right?
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 10:06
Quoting bmiluski:
So you're saying it's wrong but any country has the right?


No, if you want to ask me what's right, I'd say the US and Russia are both wrong. But I can't simply whisk away what you so casually do. The US created a very dire situation right on Russia's doorstep. Putin would be a madman not to stand up to the US now that they did. Would you wish to have your country competely surrounded by missiles from the strongest military in the world ? I wouldn't. Especially not after years of historical rhetoric and overt US policies stating an aim to "contain" Russia. If you live in the US, you are no more or less threatened by Russia no matter how the Ukraine works out. If you live in Russia, you're in huge trouble if the Ukraine situation works out with Ukraine joining NATO ... a precondition for help from the US/EU/IMF. It's a far more complicated issue than you casually putting a white "good guy" hat on the US and a black "bad guy" hat on Russia.
 
 
+1 # dsepeczi 2014-05-05 10:50
We've been spreading our form of democracy, one in which you get the best politicians money can buy, to the rest of the world in some form or another all over the world. We've been pushing NATO and their missile installations right up to Russia's border. But you say that Russia should just sit there and take it. I somehow don't think you'd feel the same way if you lived in Russia.
 
 
-1 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 12:56
European countries bordering Russia's territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there.
Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern.
Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region.
So you see it's the same bull-shit.
Putin's ego was bruised because we managed to get his "man" out and put one of ours in. That's all this is.....Putin's ego-rant. And people are getting killed.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 10:25
Quoting bmiluski:
European countries bordering Russia's territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there.
Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern.
Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region.
So you see it's the same bull-shit.
Putin's ego was bruised because we managed to get his "man" out and put one of ours in. That's all this is.....Putin's ego-rant. And people are getting killed.


You don't think this has anything to do with Russia's concerns about us ... the most powerful AND most aggressive nation in the world, installing a "puppet regime" right on his doorstep ? You don't think it has anything to do with the natural resources in the Ukraine ? You don't think it has anything to do with the gas lines and naval base Russia would lose access to ? This, to you, is simply all Putin's fault and it's all about his ego ? Really ?
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-07 09:38
Quoting bmiluski:
European countries bordering Russia's territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there.
Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern.
Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region.
So you see it's the same bull-shit.
Putin's ego was bruised because we managed to get his "man" out and put one of ours in. That's all this is.....Putin's ego-rant. And people are getting killed.

Lastly, with regards to Lithuania and Poland issuing statements of concern ... that is pure hyperbole orchestrated by America telling them to say that. Why should they fear nuclear weapons from Russia even if Russia deployed them there. First off, Russia would feel the nuclear fallout of any nuclear attack to either of those countries. Secondly, Russia would have no need to use nuclear weapons on either since Russia's conventional military could cut through either of those countries like a hot knife through butter.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-05 13:35
There are no Ukranian missile installations on the Ukraine/russian border. They were all taken away when the Ukraine signed the Budapest Agreement with russia,and the US.
The Treaty was signed by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major (of England) and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

All of these leaders agreed to protect the sovereignty and "territorial agreement" of Ukraine, meaning any Russian support for Crimean independence would be in violation of Russia's international obligations.
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2014-05-06 07:10
Whom ever gave me a "thumbs down" please explain why. I was, after all, just giving you the facts.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 10:13
Quoting bmiluski:
There are no Ukranian missile installations on the Ukraine/russian border. They were all taken away when the Ukraine signed the Budapest Agreement with russia,and the US.
The Treaty was signed by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major (of England) and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

All of these leaders agreed to protect the sovereignty and "territorial agreement" of Ukraine, meaning any Russian support for Crimean independence would be in violation of Russia's international obligations.


I'm not the one giving you a "thumbs down" because you have a right to your opinion no matter how frequently we debate our differences. Lol. It is true that Ukraine doesn't have missiles on Russia's border but part of the EU/US/IMF requirements for a bailout was that the Ukraine would be forced to join NATO. Now, once they join NATO, how long do you think it will be before the US installs missiles there. I agree that all of the leaders agreed to protect Ukrainian sovereignty ... but the US, not Russia, was the first to break that agreement by orchestrating a coup to overthrow the legitimate government of Ukraine. Then Russia may have done (still waiting for proof) what anyone should have expected them to do ... they moved in to guard their own geographic and military interests. All this could have been avoided if the US, for once in it's long, bloody history, minded it's own fucking business.
 
 
0 # dsepeczi 2014-05-06 10:22
Quoting bmiluski:
There are no Ukranian missile installations on the Ukraine/russian border. They were all taken away when the Ukraine signed the Budapest Agreement with russia,and the US.
The Treaty was signed by Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major (of England) and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

All of these leaders agreed to protect the sovereignty and "territorial agreement" of Ukraine, meaning any Russian support for Crimean independence would be in violation of Russia's international obligations.


The other interesting side note to the agreement you spoke of was that the US, itself, said that they consider the agreement as non-binding ... likely because they knew that they'd eventually get reported as having violated that agreement with their coup. Also, Clinton violated that agreement a long time ago when he brought some of the countries that Russia had granted freedom to into NATO.
 

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