Comment by Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov on the anniversary of the setting on fire of the Odessa House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014
May 2 marks the second anniversary of one of the most tragic events in the Ukraine conflict – the barbaric setting on fire by neo-Nazi Bandera followers of dozens of civilians who took refuge from them in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa. This grave crime, which has all the attributes of a crime against humanity, took the lives of 48 people, whose only fault was in openly expressing their civic stance against the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February 2014, and the unrest caused by the ultra-radicals in Ukraine.
Two years later, we are here to state that the situation concerning the investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014 remains utterly unsatisfactory. According to a report issued by the Council of Europe’s International Advisory Panel for Ukraine dated November 4, 2015, the investigation allegedly conducted by the Ukrainian authorities does not in any way correspond to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, or the criteria of independence, efficiency, and impartiality of an investigation conducted within a reasonable period of time. In particular, major violations of investigation standards, including the failure to comply with the principle of impartiality in the justice system, undue delays in terms of investigating the actions of the police and fire service, gross omissions in the collection of evidence and conducting of relevant examinations were noted. The findings of the forensic medical examination revealing the cause of death of the people were not released either and law enforcement officers have not identified the persons involved in the perpetration of this grave crime, and also failed to carry out a professional inquiry. Thus, the impunity of the perpetrators of the arson in Odessa remains a fact and, apparently, Kiev and a number of Western capitals pretend that there’s nothing unusual about it and it is not at variance with the principles of rule of law and fundamental standards of international law in the sphere of human rights.
We call upon international human rights organisations and the mechanisms of the UNHRC, OSCE, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe Secretary General, as well as authoritative international NGOs, to step up their activities with regard to the Odessa case, and affect a strong impact on Kiev to have it proceed with the investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
We are also concerned with information about fomenting tensions in Odessa, and the bringing into the city of trained fighters from the Aydar and Azov radical nationalist groups, as well as other signs of preparations for more provocations in Odessa.
There shall be no impunity for the perpetrators of crimes in Ukraine.