The Council of Europe yesterday released a very strict report on the investigation carried by Ukrainian authorities on the 2 May 2014 clashes that caused the death of 48 people in the fire of the House of Unions in Odessa. One of the darkest pages of the after Maidan remain obscure and its perpetrators unpunished.
A prerequisite: the Odessa tragedy pays the price of being exploited already since its dead were still warm. Pulled from a side and the other by pro and anti Maidan, even outside Ukraine, it ended up becoming an ideological dispute. Pro-Russian media use the 48 deaths in every opportunity to attack the government and the Maidan in Kiev; pro-Ukrainian ones almost forgot them in the shadow of the “Heavenly hundred”, the more than one hundred deaths of Maidan. Everyone has his own martyrs.
But the memory of the victims of that terrible May day deserve a serious and not ideological approach. And an investigation that will find those responsible – all those responsible – no matter which side they belong to.The report released by the Council of Europe is a sign in this direction.
The International advisory panel that oversees the investigation of the events of the Euromaidan period made no allowances to the Ukrainian authorities.
“The Panel has found that the investigations have failed to satisfy the requirements of the European Convention of Human Rights,” the report reads. “The Panel found that the investigations faced significant challenges but noted that these challenges cannot excuse any failings which did not inevitably flow from them. Investigations lacked institutional and practical independence. Given the evidence indicative of police complicity in the mass disorder of 2 May 2014 and the hierarchical relationship between the State Emergency Service and the Ministry of the Interior, the investigations as a whole should have been carried by an organ independent of the Ministry.”
Behind a bit bureaucratic language, the great problem of these investigations is hidden. Still too many people do not want to bring out the truth.
The Ukrainian authorities initiated three investigations. The first investigation covers the conduct of the police, the second investigation focuses on the mass disorder and the fire in the Trade Union Building, the third one investigates the conduct of the State Emergency Service staff during the fire. But, among filings for lack of evidence, and continuous recusals of judges, none of the 21 defendants has been sentenced so far.
2 May Group
After 88 pages of shameful failures, delays and inability of the Ukrainian judiciary, the same advisory panel writes one, minor, page.It is the summary of the investigations of the May 2 Group, a spontaneous committee of journalists, activists and experts who fights for the truth. And who has since conducted an independent investigation. Which shows a great responsibility of the police and rescue.
On may 2, clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters happened in the city. Someone shoot with firearms, at least one demonstrator among Ukrainians was killed. The mob assaulted the pro-Russian camp on Kylikova field, which have been there for months. Many took shelter in the nearby House of Trade Unions. From outside the mob started throwing Molotov cocktails. The building went on fire, while the police did nothing. Firefighters were 400 meters away, but it took them 45 minutes co reach the burning building.
Events have been biased by both parties. It is ridiculous to think that the pro-Russian burned themselves alive: there are numerous and incontrovertible video (as well as witnesses) of the petrol bomb throwing from outside the building. It is equally ridiculous to think of a planned pogrom: no one could predict the House of Trade Unions would be chosen as a shelter. The result, certified by the Council of Europe, is that the dead don’t rest in peace even now. They did not have a justice, while their memory is still exploited to fuel more hatred.