Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) Appeal on the Events in Odessa City and Eastern Regions of Ukraine

The bloody outcome of May 2 events in Odessa is as follows: 46 dead and 214 wounded, including 88 hospitalized, three of whom have already died in the hospital.

Sincerely condoling with families of the dead people, and expressing sympathy with all injured, we hereby urge the Ukrainian civil society to realize our common moral responsibility for solving the crisis of such a scale which we have never before throughout the years of independence. Why has this happened, and what should we do to overcome the crisis?

Mass riots in the streets have hardly been a spontaneous collision of various youth groups. This has been a pre-planned aggression of pro-Russian separatists who were armed with sticks, bats, traumatic items and firearms, and attacked a peaceful procession of pro-Ukrainian football fans. This resulted in mutual violence and arson of the Trade Unions House due to which 38 people died.

According to reports made by official representatives of Ukrainian Security Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs, persons detained for participation in the riots include members of illegally armed groups, the majority of whom are citizens of the Russian Federation and residents of the Transdnistria. This indicates that here, in Odessa, the same Kremlin’s plan as in the Donets Basin is being implemented, namely the plan of splitting Ukraine.

Militiamen as government representatives called for ensuring law and order have basically supported the attacking armed extremists. There are testimonies of eyewitnesses as well as video records which serve as irrefutable evidences of such criminal cooperation. Such records show armed provocateurs hiding behind militiamen’s shields and shooting at the crowd with their guns and automatic arms.

Therefore, Odessa militia has been exactly the one to directly support the bloody carnage instead of maintaining public order and protecting citizens’ rights. And, in such a case, the leaders of Odessa militia bear full responsibility for mass perishing of people.

However, not just P. Lutsyk, Head of the Main Department of MIA of Ukraine in Odessa Region against whom an official investigation is started, has those victims on his conscience: the responsibility for the tragedy must be also shared by chiefs of subdivisions who directly supervised public order maintenance in the city streets.

We demand an adequate reaction to these events from the country leaders. The society must not pay such a tragic price for the government’s improper execution of its duties. The state in the person of law enforcement authorities bears a constitutional obligation towards the citizens for their security, as well as for establishment and implementation of human rights and liberties.

We require a thorough and all-round investigation of the Odessa tragedy circumstances, and institution of corresponding proceedings against all guilty parties including Odessa militia officials who have not taken necessary measures to detain and to disarm the provocateurs for attacking the peaceful march.

We would like to draw the country leaders’ attention to the facts of formation of numerous groups which illegally possess weapons. Nobody should have any privilege in weapons possession, neither at Maidan, not at Antimaidan, because the law is the same for everybody. A connivance of this point jeopardizes people’s health and lives.

As of today, national laws have no actual effect in Eastern regions of Ukraine. Instead, the law of force rules, causing violence on the part of criminal groups, and the criminals’ dictatorship is being established by the power of arms. In Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, seizure of administrative buildings, robberies, pillage, kidnapping, tortures, sexual assaults and murders are becoming a daily routine. Such exultation of lawlessness and violence should be put an end to.

It is necessary to strengthen the law reinforcement authorities with available experienced head personnel immediately. Yet, it is even more important to take measures for restoration of the legal foundation of Ukraine’s unity, in particular of the uniform implementation of the Constitution and laws throughout the country’s territory. It is necessary to return Ukraine back to the legal framework where everyone’s rights and liberties will be surely guaranteed, and where the state power authorities will represent an effective mechanism of such rights provision.

In the context of events currently taking place in Odessa and Eastern regions of Ukraine, we consider it necessary to develop special measures to protect the presidential elections against provocations. One of such measures may be simultaneous conduct of an all-national survey on the constitutional system basics in the new Constitution, and on the foreign policy vector of the country’s development, which may help to relieve the social tension in the country.

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