“It was a bloody abortion of Novorossia. After that, it became clear to the whole country that the Kremlin project, when a part of the country is separated from Kiev, will not be there.”
By Galima Galiullina for VT
In the hearts of some of Odessa’s people the events of May 2, 2014 will forever be a painful loss and a memory of the brutal cruelty of those who killed their loved ones. In some others memory waits a heavy and viscous fear of the inevitability of reckoning. Four years later, one side a planned punitive operation resulting in an execution, while the other sees that conflict a victory to celebrate.
You need to have strong nerves and the composure of a pathologist to withstand sayings of some Ukrainian intellectuals. So, for example, political scientist Kirill Zhivotovsky on viewing a film about the events in Odessa on May 2, 2014 stated:
“It was a bloody abortion of Novorossia. After that, it became clear to the whole country that the Kremlin project, when a part of the country is separated from Kiev, will not be there.”
I’m sure the young political analyst Zhivotovsky with the heavy gaze of an alligator is even proud of a beautiful metaphor. For him, a staunch supporter of forceful methods of state protection, the mass murder of Ukrainians by their fellow citizens is a patriotic act. His compatriot, lieutenant colonel of the SBU and conflictologist Vladimir Muzyk, considers the burning of people in the House of Trade Unions a victory of the Ukrainian statehood over Russian statehood.
Radio “Echo of Moscow” called the Odessa massacre simple street riots.
One of the leaders of the Ukrainian junta, who seized power in 2014, Olexandr Turchinov wrote in his book “Coming”: “Fear is a means by which we will rule the people.”
Immediately after the bloody victory of Maidan, the new government of Ukraine needed to use fear to finally consolidate its victory. The victim of the junta’s plans was Odessa, a city where resistance to the new Ukrainian authorities assumed the character of a sustainable movement, which soon became known as the anti-Maidan.
After early 2014, following the example of Maidan in Kiev in the south and east of Ukraine, tent camps appeared in several cities. Mostly the tents sheltered anti-Maidan protesters. Supporters of the Maidan appeared also but seldom attracted more than a handful of protesters sheltered in 2 or 3 tents.
What happened in Odessa on May 2, 2014
Inspired by the successful use of Georgian snipers to kill more than a hundred people on the Maidan in March 2014 organizers of the Maidan revolution decided to send their professional killers to Odessa. The story, detailed by Israeli director and screenwriter Anna Stefan in her 2017 documentary film “The Square of Broken Hopes,” reveals how the Odessa massacre unfolded as a carefully planned attack – not a simple street riot.
Andrey Parubiy, at that time Аcting Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, and today speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, arrived in Odessa on April 29 to support Ukrainian patriots. Parubiy personally issued bulletproof vests to the Maidan supporters he brought in to incite violence and conduct attacks.
According to Georgian snipers interviewed by Stefan, Parubiy controlled all events on May 2 in Odessa. Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov ordered to open weapons warehouses and distribute them to every “patriot” who wanted to arm themselves.
Ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov said in April 2015: “It is a bundle in the composition of Parubiy and acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov launched a punitive operation in Odessa.”
The snipers arrived in Odessa from Kiev on five buses along with others armed with sticks, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails and young people of athletic build. Odessa had already been filled with thousands of pro-Ukrainian activists: the right-wing militants, football fans trained in street brawls with anti-Maidanovites in other cities.
About two thousand “peaceful” fans, some also in bulletproof vests, helmets and with weapons, arrived from Kharkov. This group was joined by Banderovtsy – neo-Nazi followers of notorious World War Two Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera.
Alexei Ivakin, a writer who participated in the events of that day together with anti-Maidanovites, claims that the number of pro-Ukrainian activists reached 4,000. – the vast majority being outsiders that arrived on trains and buses. He went on to note:
“This is not a random chaotic skirmish, not an elementary clash. We saw it as a carefully prepared punitive operation, which involved several thousand people. This is the level of the customers, this is the level of the organizers, this is the level of the executors of the first layer (punishers), this is the level of the second layer (militants) executors, this is the level of the performers of the third layer (meat). And all these layers knew their task within their competence. ”
In 2013, before the victory of the junta in Kiev, Andrei Parubiy had ordered the creation of mobile self-defense groups of Maidan supporters in cities of Ukraine. These groups were called “hundreds”, according to the number of participants. On that day the “hundreds” arrived in Odessa from Kiev, Vinnitsa, Lviv, Rivne, and Ternopil.
Participants and phases of conflict
In parallel with the growing intensity of the struggle for power in Kiev, in Odessa in 2014, as well as in many other cities of the South-East of Ukraine, the political activity of the population grew. Aleksei Ivakin wrote that before May 2nd Odessa was under normal and calm control of Pro- Odessa forces – emphasizing that pro-Odessa meant people mostly lived and worked as normal.
Prior to the Odessa massacre, Petr Lutsyuk – a protégé of the junta, and head of the militia intended to disperse Maidanians and right-wingers from the streets of Odessa but was unsuccessful. Likewise, Gauleiter Nemirovsky (Governor of Odessa Oblast) could do nothing with the Kulikovo Field where anti-Maidan protesters gathered and maintained tent encampments. Odessa city officials, banks, hucksters, car repair shops all sabotaged the junta with pleasure on the principle of the “Italian strike”. The struggle, it could take different forms.
Supporters of the Maidan gathered near the monument to Duke Richelieu, and at that time there were very few of them perhaps 30-40 people. One observer described Maidan supporters in Odessa as “Bad crazy hipsters and city crazies. Yes, and a couple dozen right-sectors, which cannot be looked at without tears.”
On the Kulikovo Field, near the Trade Union House, supporters of federalization and preservation of Russian as the State language gathered and rallied. At that time 95% of Ukrainians spoke Russian. The anti-Maidan coalition had two squads – “Odessa squad” – the power link prepared to fight if necessary, and, “People’s Guards” – focused on agitation and propaganda.
On May 2, the situation changed dramatically. Thousands of radicals and militants were brought to the city center and instructed that they will kill Russians, not Odessa citizens. This is why later the imported radicals were asking victims: “What are you doing in this country?” before murdering helpless and badly burned people.
The first phase of the conflict – noon
Crowds of radicals, activists of the Maidan, visiting “hundreds” joined on Soborka Street in Odessa. Eyewitnesses talk about a group of young girls pulling boxes of bottles out of the arriving buses. To the question of why they need so many bottles, the beauties replied smiling: We will burn you!
At noon, the fire brigade received a call about a car on fire on Grecheskaya Street. The firefighters who responded to the false call were surrounded by a group of militants, more than 50 people who captured the fire truck after firemen were thrown out. Later, this fire truck under the flags of Ukraine was used as a ram in street collisions to create confusion and block rescue attempts at the Trade Union Building.
On the place of street clashes, the governor Nemirovsky arrives. After several calls, he orders militiamen who were serving as local police, to leave on buses saying they were needed in other parts of the city.
The second phase of the conflict – seven thirty
Clashes continued all afternoon on Odessa’s streets. Part of the anti-Maidan members after a clash with militants sought shelter in the shopping center “Athena”. These fortunate people were later freed and returned unharmed to their homes. After seven hours, the militants stormed tents of the anti-Maidan camp and set them on fire. At 19:31 the first calls about the fire of tents and the pitched battles between competing protesters was received at the Odessa fire station nearest the battle site.
The road along which the anti-Maidanovites could leave the square was blocked. The only opportunity to escape from the advancing crowd of aggressively-minded militants was for the unarmed people to take refuge in the building of the House of Trade Unions. The retreating people did not suspect that they were being trapped.
Here bottles filled by girls with petro making the Molotov cocktail were used. Soon the doors of the building were in flames, bottles flew into the smashed windows of the building. The fire that started inside the building quickly went up the floors, as the broken windows provided draft like in a fireplace.
The fire department dispatcher, located close to the burning building, initially refused to send cars, citing the fact that the fire is not dangerous. As the fire rages out of control she just stops answering the phone. In the building, the fire hoses were cut before the start of the events and there was also no water in the fire hydrants. The electricity in the building was also turned off.
Within 2 hours in the building and around the building was a real hell. People screamed from the windows, crying for help. Desparate jumpers fell into the hands of militants and were brutalized, Bandera men, right-wingers, who, with truncheons, finished off wounded and burned people.
When the fire in the building ended, people with axes and clubs entered the building. They smashed the doors into the rooms where the survivors were hiding and massacred them. A nurse from the Jewish hospital, who was on duty that night, says that all the night they were taken to crippled, wounded people and corpses with terrible wounds, with ripped bellies.
An unknown number of the anti-Maidanovites who survived the slaughter were immediately arrested and taken to police stations.
Crime and Punishment
According to official data, on May 2nd, a total of 48 people died in the Trade Union House. Writer Alexei Ivakin, an eyewitness and participant in the events of that day and night, conducted his own investigation and counted 397 victims by name, including not only those who died in the Trade Union House and street clashes that day, but also those who died soon of wounds, injuries and burns of the body and respiratory tract.
There are stark differences with the official version of the causes of death of people in the House of Trade Unions and independent experts. The official version: death came as a result of poisoning by products of burning and falling from a great height.
However, numerous video recordings from the scene captured scenes of brutal beatings of wounded people jumping out of the windows. The comments of those who walked through the burned corridors and rooms of the building, stepping over the charred corpses, and filming the video, clearly indicate a joyful satisfaction with the work well done.
And the postures of the corpses with their hands up to the sky and the nature of the burns (for some bodies the clothes remained whole, but the face and hands burned completely, some of the bodies burned to the bone) suggests that the killers used grenades with white phosphorus.
Sadly, there have been no official investigations into this matter. Which is quite natural, as pro-Maidan Ukranians boast – neither Parubiy or Turchynov with Poroshenko are Syria’s Assad, “they are our sons of a bitch.”
The legal field for the physical elimination of opponents of the new government was prepared immediately after the mass shootings on the Maidan in February 2014. The next day, a law was passed: “On the prevention of the persecution of participants in mass protests.” Under this law, all who were on the Maidan and Maidan supporters are protected from punishment for any crimes. Andrew Parubiy, the executioner of Odessa, never appeared before investigators in the Odessa case. And how many crimes the militants of the mobile groups of “Self Defense of the Maidan” have committed, is known only to God.
None of the planners, executors, leaders and organizers of the burning of people in Odessa were brought to justice. On the contrary, those few who managed to escape alive from the fiery hell and survived the hail of the brutalized mob were found in custody and after four years now they remain jailed but have not yet been charged.
The investigation of the crime was transferred to the hands of those who organized it. Attempts to get help from the United Nations did not lead to anything. The first appeal was accompanied by a report on the events in Odessa. “From the report, the impression was created that people who died in Odessa set themselves on fire in a building in which they had to hide from armed bandits,” said Russia’s permanent representative to the UN the late Vitaly Churkin.
Russia proposed to instruct the UN Secretary General to organize an independent investigation into the events in Odessa. The motion did not pass. In 2016, Russia proposed a statement on Ukraine, which called for the investigation of the tragic events on May 2, 2014, against this were the United States, British, French and Ukrainian delegations.
Critics of the inept Odessa investigation and cover up point out that the main element in the “Odessa case” is lost: none of the investigating agencies raise the issue of the involvement of high-ranking Ukrainian officials and other well-known persons in the May 2 events. This is the most important question, without an answer to which it is impossible to understand why the Odessa massacre happened.
Of course, local militiamen and rescuers could act differently. But for some reason they did not act. Why? Who directed the Georgian snipers during their work in Odessa? Who ordered to bring thousands of militants and armed them? Where did grenades with white phosphorus come from?
What do the new facts reveal?
The film by Israeli director Anna Stefan “The Square of Broken Hopes” sheds light on some deadly circumstances in Odessa on May 2. That day, the first killed on Odessa’s Deribasovskaya Street was Igor Ivanov, one of the leaders of hundreds of “Right Sector” gangs.
The official version of the tragedy justifies the further clashes and deaths of people in the House of Trade Unions with this trigger – the death of a Maidan supporter from a shot from a Kalashnikov assault rifle that was in the hands of a federalist.
But the recognition of Georgian snipers Badzhali Cesari, Alexander Revazishvili and Georgy Bezhitashvili about their participation in the May events in Odessa make it possible to conclude that their work was the source of genuine provocation.
Mamuka Mamuashvili, former military advisor to ex-Georgian president Saakashavili, recruited a dozen snipers in Georgia and they arrived with false passports from Tbilisi to Kiev without any customs and passport control. They claim that this freedom of access to the country for mercenaries was created by Andrey Parubiy, at that time commander of the Maidan, and now Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada.
A thousand dollars were given to each of them at the beginning of the mission and five thousand dollars more were promised upon completion of their work. The
Georgian snipers claim that they worked on the day of the mass death of people on the Maidan and they were brought personally by Sergei Pashinsky (now head of the Defense and National Security Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and head of the supervisory board of Ukroboronprom, an organization engaged in the arms trade).
So not having received the promised money, the snipers claim that on May 1 they were sent in buses to Odessa. After these events, three Georgian snipers remained alive, living in anticipation of imminent death. They told the truth about the events of the Maidan and Odessa in the hope that this would help them save their lives. Accustomed to killing unarmed people from sniper rifles, they admit that they are afraid to get a bullet in the back.
About the role of Andrew Parubiy in the Odessa massacre, they say that Parubiy gave orders to block fire trucks, block roads and not let anyone out of the House of Trade Unions. The co-worker of Maidan Anatoly Zhornova (call sign Bear) in the film of Anna Stefan states: “Parubiy was there (in Odessa) around the clock. What decisions he made and which teams he gave – we will tell after a certain time, but for now I cannot say.”
Movement of people in the first phase of the conflict proves that the goal of the organizers of the massacre was to push as many people as possible into the House of Trade Unions. It was the plan to kill as many as possible. It is logical – the more people die a terrible death from the hands of “patriots”, the deeper and more terrible will be the fear of Odessa citizens and other residents of the country. Olexandr Turchinov in his book essentially formulated the seminal idea for the junta.
Lessons of the Odessa crematorium
Each story of mass extermination of human beings, no matter what country it may occur, is not only food for the journalists, but the ringing of bells, which can ring also for all who survived.
For the inhabitants of Odessa death by fire and brutalization of their friends and relatives has caused “pupation” – the hearts and souls of people are now constrained by fear and apathy. Does this mean that the Odessa special operation of the type “Shock and Awe” has reached its goal?
Nikolay Petro, professor from the University of Rhode Island came to Odessa on a scientific exchange in 2013 to complete academic work. After the May 2nd tragedy he could not say about any official repressions. But, he observed –
“I lived here a year and got used to some people in the press, on television. And suddenly after February they disappear. Maybe, at their own request, they quit? I do not know. But it is noticeable. And those who appear in their place speak in a completely different key.”
“People are still waiting for the truth about the events of May 2nd. But, they believe that the investigation is too important to remain in the hands of Kiev law enforcers. Local publications write that there is no progress, and the investigation is going badly. In the presidential elections in May 2014, the Odessa region gave the lowest turnout after the regions where battles are fought – less than 50% (15% in fact). I think it would be even lower if it were not for the announcement to the whole Ukraine in the Shuster Live TV program that Poroshenko’s supporter won the mayoral election. This activated his opponents and the candidate from Poroshenko lost. And in Odessa at all times the election of the mayor is “more important” than the presidential.”
May 1, 2018, that is literally yesterday, the nationalist organizations of Odessa issued a cynical and ominous statement that on May 2 they are going to “celebrate the victory” of Odessa over the Moscow occupants and do not want to see mourning for the victims of the fire in the House of Trade Unions.
The nationalists recorded the appeal on video, while cowardly closing their faces with balaclava. They demand that the people of Odessa “stay at home” while the march of the “Ukrainian order” takes place in the city. “And do not say later that we did not warn you!”
Those regions of Ukraine that did not want to submit to Kiev were even more firmly established in their awareness of the inability to live under the rule of criminals who came to power through armed insurrection. Two republics of Novorossia – the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics strengthened their defenses with a firm will to win.
Their conviction that they are fighting a very dangerous beast – Ukrainian fascism, is backed up by memories in each family about the inhuman cruelty of Bandera and OUN executioners during the Great Patriotic War. The pride remaining in their grandfathers who won the most terrible war in human history is inextinguishable.
In Ukraine itself, there is a growing awareness of the terrible abyss between those who paved the way to power on the blood and millions of deceived, robbed, disadvantaged people.
For the West, the tragedy of Odessa is a lesson in the importance of choosing the right friends. Selecting partners for geopolitical games on the expanses of Eurasia, one must remember that today’s heart of Eurasia is Russia. Trying to tear off Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan from the heart of Eurasia, Western executors of the will of banks and corporations do not realize the very nature of Eurasia, the essence of this vast territory, they do not know the history and mentality of the peoples living there.
Who among the inspirers of the Maidan could imagine that their plans to swallow Ukraine quickly and set it against Russia will turn out as nothing except for the collapse and failure it has become? The protracted war against its own people led to a catastrophe in the economy, a sharp drop in the standard of living of ordinary people and the enrichment of Petro Poroshenko and his colleagues.
Ukraine’s public debt is 2 trillion 100 billion hryvnia (4.4 trillion rubles, or 77 billion dollars). This was reported by the chairman of the country’s treasury service Tatyana Slyuz who admitted “The state guaranteed debt is already counted trillions. Today it is 2.1 trillion hryvnia.”
Ukraine’s News One notes that over the past four years, debt has quadrupled – in December 2013 it was 584.1 billion hryvnia. In February, it was reported that Ukraine has to pay annually about $ 5 billion to service foreign debt, and the entire weight of the burden falls on Ukrainian families. In 2016, the IMF stopped lending to Ukraine, because it is impossible to return money from the “black hole.”
But Petro Poroshenko got an opportunity to become a speaker at Davos in 2018, taking 9th place in the ranking of the richest speakers of the World Economic Forum. The wealth of Peter Poroshenko was estimated at 1 billion 600 million dollars. Over the past 4 years he increased his state 7 times – by selling candy bars?
One can understand the impossibility for Ukrainian rulers to reconcile with the loss of the Crimea, to part forever with its South-East regions. These regions of Ukraine have always been the driving force behind the economic and cultural development of Ukraine. All the power of the Soviet industry, the established system of education, the ability to live with high ideals – all this was concentrated precisely where Kiev would like to terrorize the population and crush their will to resist and establish the regime of the junta.
Undoubtedly, Western Ukraine, where the Bandera methods of violence and terror since the 1930s were not only condemned but also cultivated as quite acceptable to fight the hated “Moscals,” supported the power of Poroshenko. During the Maidan and the beginning of a popular uprising in the Southwest, Lviv sent 600 militants every day to Kiev and regions that did not submit to Kiev. And every day 200 wounded were coming back, there was no mention of coffins. But what, apart from the militants who are hungry for human blood, can Western Ukraine give to the country and the world?
On April 30, Petro Poroshenko announced the end of the Anti-Terrorist Operation and the beginning of the Operation of the United Forces. Now the population of the People’s Democratic Republics are not terrorists, but unneeded and unwanted occupants.
The former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Irina Farion, pronounced the Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine are mentally retarded traitors and the country’s biggest problem. As another party figure explains, the main task is to get rid of this population as quickly as possible, more effectively and in the cheapest way. The territory cleared of “mentally retarded traitors” is obviously planned by some highly developed exceptional beings.
On the future of Russia and Ukraine
For all observed signs, the US is intensifying the process of world chaos and the encirclement of Russia by unstable or agonizing neighbors is an essential part of the plan. The process of European integration has resulted in rapid stagnation and threatens to disintegrate, so no one will support adding other members unable to contribute meaningful resources or markets to the EU empire.
But any internal and external forces that weaken Russia’s neighbors and turn them into a flaming ring around Russia will be supported. According to Russian political scientist Rostislav Ishchenko:
“In this situation everything depends on local elites. The resource-saving strategy adopted by Russia suggests that the ally must endure the main burden of resistance to the aggressor itself (as Syria does). Russia’s help should be effective and close only those areas that cannot be closed without Russia and whose transition to the enemy is threatened with defeat. Otherwise, in a simple competition with the West, who will give more dollars or put more tanks, Russia will still be defeated (since it will agree, therefore, to transfer the party to the board on which the West absolutely dominates).
That is, if the local elite can consolidate itself and consolidate society, then neither Western intrigues, nor the actions of its own opposition collaborators (which are everywhere, but where the power is effective, they are vanishingly small) will not lead to significant destabilization. And direct armed aggression (as in Syria) can be repulsed with the help of Russia. If the elite is split and the society is in a state of confrontation (regional, confessional, ethnic, linguistic or all in a crowded manner), then no one can save such a country from sliding into a deep internal conflict. ”
By all accounts, this is Ukraine. It is not by chance that the attitude of Ukrainians to the tragedy in Odessa, when the popular current events Ukrainian TV audience applauded the news about the burning of people, far-sighted people called this the demise of Ukraine.
For elites in the post-Soviet space it is time to realize the prospects of their “bright future.” They will have a difficult choice between very brief moments of opportunity to quickly fill their pockets and disappear forever in the abyss of history, or try to save their people and countries from turning into hot spots around Russia.
Armenia is just now plunging into a stormy boiling of choice. Azerbaijan reacted immediately to unrest in Yerevan and moved forces to Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Parliament has enough courage not to allow Pashinyan to take power. But the future depends on the perspicacity and civic consciousness of peoples and elites. I hope that the ashes of Odessa’s martyrs will knock on the hearts of all who have a sense of decency and humanity.
Galima Galiullina, PhD