For the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, the second of May is not a day like any other. Because this date is the anniversary of a terrible event that changed the lives of residents and further intensified the conflict sparked by the Maidan coup: the Odessa massacre.
A comment/research by Nikita
At least that’s what the Russians and the pro-Russian Ukrainians call it. For Kyiv and the rest of the world, it is “the May 2 riots”. Officially, 48 people died that day, 42 of them alone in a fire in the union building. However, eyewitnesses speak of more than 100 dead, some even of over 200.
But how could it come to this? What really happened on May 2, 2014 in Odessa and how is it that no one has been held accountable for it to this day? A search for clues.
Inconsistencies in the Western narrative
Following the Western narrative, it went like this: A football match between Chornomorets Odessa and Metalist Kharkiv drew supporters of the Kharkov hooligan scene and Right Sector to Odessa, where they were attacked by pro-Russian activists, which eventually led to street clashes. During these street battles, the pro-Ukrainian side crowded their opponents into Kulikov Square, where anti-Maidan protesters had set up a tent camp. The people fled to the trade union building behind it. Both sides threw Molotov cocktails at each other, which resulted in a fire in the building. In short: an outbreak of violence, but “only” a tragic event.
And yet this story is full of inconsistencies. The webcams, which are actually aimed at the union building, were not in operation that very day. It took firefighters about 40 minutes to get to the scene of the fire. Photos and videos show police officers standing by the burning union building. The right sector in Kharkov mobilized hundreds of its supporters in advance to travel to Odessa on May 2nd. Allegedly, all were unarmed, but cell phone videos of participants show people with firearms. Other videos show young women enthusiastically making Molotov cocktails. Bodies in the union house show gunshot wounds, strangulation and strange burns.
Was Odessa a planned escalation?
In any case, Kyiv quickly tried to limit the damage after the incident. A day later, the government announced that the “separatists” had set themselves on fire. They threw Molotov cocktails from the roof and one of them fell and started the fire. Apparently, Ukrainian propaganda was not bothered by the fact that this neither matches the pictures showing pro-Ukrainian demonstrators throwing incendiary devices in front of the trade union building nor the technical development of the fire.
And another fact that is also annoying is the following: the building was opened to the public just one day after the fire. Dozens of people entered the scene of the crime, which should have been extensively examined by forensics. They wanted to forget the terrible event, which left an unsightly stain on the Maidan government’s supposedly clean slate, as quickly as possible. The renovation work started just as quickly.
For the families of the victims, the time after the massacre was an emotional martyrdom. Her relatives were accused of being violent separatists and were pressured to prove otherwise. Commemorative events at the trade union building were disrupted by right-wing groups, mourning people mocked and threatened.
Months later, Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko commented on the incident, saying: “Odessa paid a heavy price to become pro-Ukrainian.”
Investigations went nowhere
To this day, the Odessa massacre is a dark stain on the memory of the Euromaidan. And that’s mainly because not a single person was brought to justice for it. Following the disaster, only pro-Russian activists were arrested and questioned. The investigations went nowhere. A year and a half later, the Council of Europe criticized that no substantial progress had been made in the investigations, but even that did not bring about any decisive changes. To this day it is said that it is not known who or what caused the fire.
What remains are the terrifying images that anyone who saw them will not soon forget: people jumping out of windows to escape the flames, only to be beaten by an angry mob. Charred bodies lining the stairwell. Sadness, anger and speechlessness remain. And the refusal to forget what changed the face of the otherwise peaceful port city forever on May 2, 2014.
Also read: Videos show violence and repression of citizens of Mariupol by Ukraine in 2014